Professor Haytham Mahfoud
September 22, 2013
A Critique of “Who Needs College?”
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In her essay “Who Needs College?” Linda Lee addresses the issue of whether or not a college education is necessary in order to have a successful life. Lee believes that too much importance is placed on going away to school and getting a degree when it is very possible to find a job and learn valuable life lessons without it. While many would strongly oppose her position on this topic, it has been proven time and time again by numerous individuals that a bright future is well within reach without having to obtain a degree.
Going to college is considered to be one of the most important parts of a person’s adult life. Lee focuses on this unnecessary pedestal that the college experience is put on. Kids treat it as an excuse to party and do not place the same level of importance on it as their parents do. Lee had this realization with her own son when she thought about how she was “paying $1,000 a week for this pleasure cruise” (52). This lead her to pull her son out of school until he was ready to go back and be serious or find a job to occupy his time more efficiently.
Her son went on to have many different jobs. They were not the most glamorous, but taught him independence and how to be responsible with his own money. Lee argues that this life path got her son to a fulfilling place where he was enjoying what he was doing and had found a good job where a promotion was in his near future (2). This end result is typically why students go through college in the first place.
Throughout the essay, Lee uses multiple statistics in order to back up her position. This is useful because it helps the reader understand that the point being made is a valid one. Lee goes on to make references to people ranging from her hair colorist all the way to Bill Gates to prove that a degree is not necessary to go places in life (52). It is helpful that she also has the advantage of being able to say her son benefited from this way of living. This broadens the audience immensely because the varying age groups can relate to the different examples and statistics used throughout.
Lee makes a very refreshing point and is correct when asking the question of why so many people feel it is necessary to go to college. It is always assumed that after graduating high school, college is the only acceptable step a young person should be taking. These are very high expectations that put a lot of pressure on the ones who might not be ready yet. It is much more practical to focus on what you are passionate about first and then going back to school instead of the other way around. Lee states that “…most kids today view college as a way to get a good job” (52). This only sets graduates up for disaster when they go out into the real world and find out that they cannot find a job as easily as they thought they would. Making it seem like getting a degree is the only way to get places in life is entirely the wrong impression to be giving.
Furthermore, while the notion of bypassing a college education is unheard of for most people, it is very possible to be successful without one. Lee thoroughly believes that going to college should not have to be expected from everyone. Referencing the experience she went through with her own son and how he left school opened her eyes and lead her to ask the title question of “Who Needs College?” Earning a degree may be essential for those who wish to pursue a career in medicine or law, but is not always helpful to those who do not have similar goals. Multiple statistics are used throughout in order to validate this. Lee opens the door for many who might not have thought skipping out on college at first or altogether was an option. It is more then possible to learn the same important lessons and find a good career and now, thanks to Lee, awareness can be raised.
Lee, Linda. “Who Needs College?”
Perspectives on Contemporary Issues: Readings Across the Disciplines. 4th ed. Ed. Katherine Anne Ackley, Boston: Wadsworth/ Gengage Learning, 2005. 51-52. Print.