In dealing with the issue of whether college should be available to the many, or reserved for the few, one needs to examine what kind of education is needed in order to become successful today. Prior to 1950, the average American with a high school diploma was considered by most employers to have a sufficient educational background for many white-collars jobs in fields as banking and advertising. Society, however, has gone through many changes since then. Most of the higher paying blue-collar jobs that used to be available have disappeared and been replaced by positions in various service industries. These new positions require greater knowledge in areas as health care, information technology, and global communications. A two year Associate’s degree has become the new minimum educational requirement for most entry-level positions. Even careers as automotive repair require backgrounds in computer science and mathematics.
The problem is the accessibility of a college education. The average tuition for a state university is over $6,000 per year; not including the cost of books and various fees. Community colleges are becoming increasingly more crowded with students, while being forced to accept budget cuts by their state governments. Private universities can easily exceed $30,000 per year in total costs, so viable options are few to those with limited financial means. Many enlist in the military in order to receive tuition assistance for college, because it is the only way they can attain a degree. Others end up being forced to finance their postsecondary educations with student loans, which will take many years to repay. Only those with considerable financial resources can attend the college or university of their choice without the burden of repaying loans that could surpass one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for a four year degree and two years of post-graduate school.
The real issue is whether a college education is a right or a privilege. European nations as France and Great Britain provide free tuition at their public universities, because their governments believe education for their citizens is a right. This should be the case for American citizens, as well. In order for the United States to reclaim its leadership in the global community, it must provide the means to enable its citizens to receive the postsecondary education required to succeed in today’s technologically advanced society. A college education cannot be reserved for only those with ready access to large sums of money.