From one perspective, education can bluntly be described as a method to advance one’s social standing, social superiority, and personal satisfaction. However, as seen by those who have already undergone the process of education and are happily within the work force, the immediate benefits of education are uncertain. The process of education is not only lengthy, but also requires considerable financial investment and undesirable debt that can follow an individual throughout their life. For example, the path to achieve a PhD requires 13 years of K-12 education, 4 years of undergraduate education, another 4 years of graduate school education, and even more, some sort of postgraduate study ranging from 4-8 years. In short, over twenty years is spent by a college student on the pursuit of a promise of a better life.
In the last few years, along with the recent financial crises and the unrest among citizens regarding working-class quality of life, awareness of the rising educational costs has become many politician’s center of attention. And yet, public schools have received less and less funding in an effort to limit the financial debt of states. The result? Teacher layoffs, increased class sizes, less diversity within schools, and most of all, increasingly limited student opportunities. Whereas college once had been the spotlight and ultimate goal of the majority of American high school students, it has now become a burden to families, as tens of thousands of dollars are now being spent to promise a dwindling future.
The immediate effects of education remain uncertain, as it seems like an endless abyss of money with a promise for a better future. What is the benefit of going to college if one could go to the local McDonald’s making an increasing minimum wage when the average college student can spend up to $60,000 a year for a degree that may make them overqualified for their future occupation? Why lug around a load of debt fresh out a college? Why take on the stress of studies that may not be applicable in the real world?
As high school students, we are faced every day with the question of why we do what we do. In short, why try in school when our outcome may be the same desk job that brings us nothing beyond a stable income? What is the purpose of education itself in the long run? This is why it is so easy to cut funding for schools. When a budget cut is implemented, sure a few teachers get laid off, but nothing immediate happens. Students will just get crammed into another classroom, do the same work, and move on with their lives. Who cares if a student can’t take another AP class whose material plays no role in their daily lives?
We may never know what actually happens when a budget cut takes place, but we can say is that the quality of education has been lowered. Moreover, in the eyes of those in power, disempowering education may just be another opportunity to convince their citizens to follow what they say. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” Without education, we will be prone to listen to anything that is told to us. We listen and we obey.