Why Do We Go To College?

July 12, 2012 in Daily Bulletin

Why do we go to college? Studies suggest that it doesn’t really teach us anything that is applicable to our careers. Economists argue that we go to college as a signal to employers that we’re the type of employees they want to hire. But Noah Smith disagrees:

  • What does college signal? Intelligence? There are much easier ways to signal intelligence that don’t require four years. Just take a simple standardized test.
  • Perhaps it signals dedication. The ability to work while others are out partying. This may well be true, but in Japan for example, companies hire based on standardized tests alone, and students go to college, and basically do nothing other than party. Why do they go to college then?
  • It can’t be for partying alone – people enjoy smoothening out their consumption over time. Is college just meant to be four years of concentrated fun? Unlikely.
  • College is actually about three things:
    • Motivation – why does anybody work? For those around them. But as you leave your home you no longer have your parents to work for. So you find friendships and romantic relationships and work for them. College screens the people to ensure that they are individuals who you would have a better chemistry with than a random person off the street.
    • Perspective – you meet all these different people headed in different directions and you see the range of possibilities available and what you are capable of.
    • Networks – building professional networks that help you later in your career.
  • None of these things can easily be done online.

To read more including why people are encouraged to party in Japanese universities, how the Japanese make employment decisions, why it’s harder to find motivation in rich countries, the importance of attitude, the role that children play, the importance of diversity, why perspective probably isn’t as important in Japan, and what the word ‘college’ means, click here.

Source: Noahpinion

Via: Marginal Revolution