Colleges in the United States

Encouraging so Many People to Go To College in the United States

The United States has nearly four thousand high-education institutions offering degrees and other post-secondary courses. These institutions include highly selective and competitive research universities admitting tens of thousands of learners to community institutions with open admission programs. However, in the U.S, institutions of higher education are faced with a myriad of challenges, one being the continuing decline in college enrollments. The steady rise in the cost of a college education over the past years has created a student debt crisis, which has caused many students to reconsider whether a college education is a right option for them. Concerns have been raised whether encouraging many people to go to college is good or bad for the United States amidst the rising cost of higher education and the decline in employment rates (Wolff, Baumol, and Saini, 21). Nevertheless, despite the challenge faced by higher education, including the rising student crisis, encouraging many people to go to college is important for the United States.

Getting a college degree is increasingly essential for people seeking greater wages and better employment prospects. A report by the Federal Reserve, 2018 indicated that college graduates’ weekly wages were 80% higher than those with only high school education in different fields. Such wage statistics encourage many high school students to enroll in college, which will ideally earn them competitive salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that, on average, Americans with a college degree have a medium weekly earning of $1,173 relative to $712 for those who only have a high school diploma (Freedman and Davis, 5).  In a study, Alon also asserted that communities also benefit significantly when more residents are college graduates. Regions with a highly educated population appeal to stronger employers and higher wages (Alon 4). This, in turn, boosts the region’s economy. Hence wages for workers across all levels of education are likely to rise.

College education helps to bridge the income gaps and economic inequalities that exist in the United States. Study shows that women in the United States require one more college degree than men to earn an equal salary (Carnevale, Smith, and Gulish 5). Similarly, African Americans continue to earn less than the whites at every academic level and require more degrees to increase their income (Carnevale, Smith, and Gulish 6).  On overage, a woman with a college degree earns about $61 000 annually, roughly equal to their male counterparts with an associate degree, according to a report published by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2018. The same principle applies to women with a master’s degree and men with a bachelor’s degree and other successful educational attainment levels (Carnevale, Smith, and Gulish, 11).


Even though economic analysts argue that education has little impact in bringing down the incomes or wages of the “real top” or solving the overall inequality in the United States, it helps increase the position of those at the bottom. A study has indicated that a stimulated increase in educational attainment increased employment prospects between ages 25 and 64 (Massey and Meegan 8). For instance, awarding a college degree for men from ages 25 and over, who previously lacked one, increases their likelihood of securing a job or boosting their overall earnings. Increasing the college degree attainment by just 10% can totally wipe the decline in medium wages experienced in the U.S. since 1979 (Massey, and Meegan, 8). A college degree generally increases the earnings for the population at the bottom half of the earning spectrum. 

Education failure or the decline in college enrollments also places the United States’ future global positioning, economic success, and physical safety at risk. It is likely that the United States will not hold its position as the superpower in the increasingly competitive and technologically advancing global sphere. Security and economic experts argue that the U.S. should focus on training college students or increasing the intakes in the fields such as artificial intelligence and computer science, supporting the forecasts estimating that artificial intelligence will contribute about 16% of the global economic productivity by 2030, and is also an issue of the national defense (Crotty 1). Gordon also argued that the U.S.’s failure to produce enough graduates leaves its students unprepared to compete in the gradually competitive world, threatening the nation’s ability to prosper in the global economy and sustain its leadership roles (72). A recent study also shows that despite the high unemployment and under-employment in the United States, major nation’s employers cannot find qualified American citizens to fill specific employment openings. About 60% of life science and aerospace corporations report scarcities of qualified workforce drawn from the United States (Crotty 3).  Educationally unprepared candidates and mismatches in skills are listed as the primary reasons why millions of vacancies go unoccupied in the United States today (Crotty 1). The findings show why the United States should emphasize college education through incentives such as lower college costs and other government support to encourage more students to further their educational levels.

Human capital is likely to determine power direction in the coming years, and failure to develop that capital undermines United States’ security. The increasing population of less-educated swaths costs the U.S. ability to protect its secure information, physically defend itself, conduct negotiation, and achieve economic growth (Mariz-Pére 71). The nature of global economic progression is partly because of innovation speed, which is seen in the rapid technology evolution, high product development rate, and shorter product life cycle. In the globalized economy, labor division is no longer solely due to wage costs but the quality of distinctions in productivities. The differences depend significantly on technology and science applications and integrated intelligence, which requires advanced education levels (Mariz-Pére 71). Therefore, the U.S. failure to develop human capital may negatively impact its ability to compete in the increasingly globalized knowledge-based economy. Therefore, it is ideal that the country encourages many students to join valuable professions through college and university education.

However, despite the increasing need to encourage more Americans to further their education beyond a high-school diploma, some factors make many Americans not see the value in a college degree. One likely reason why many people in the United States do not see the need to acquire a college degree is the steady increase in college education costs over the past several decades (Parker, 2). The rising costs of a college education are exacerbated by inflation, cuts to education funding by the federal and state governments, and colleges are increasing their expenditure on infrastructural developments. The rise in college costs has left many students in a debt crisis and has made many people second-guess their assessments concerning the cost and the value of a college degree (Parker, 5). Combined with the current steady increase in unemployment and the under-employment crisis in the United States, it is unsurprising that many Americans see the value in college degrees. Even though college graduates earn more than those with only a high school diploma, only about 50% of Americans perceive a college degree as essential (Parker, 8). In 2013, for instance, a study indicated that about 70% of American adults perceived college education to be crucial. However, as of 2019, only 51% of the United States adults considered obtaining a college degree to be an essential factor for their success (Parker, 8). The decline is primarily because of the increased cost of college education and the country’s rising unemployment.

In other studies, scholars have argued that even though pursuing a college degree is encouraged, it is not the only post-high school option nor the only way to promise a successful life. Murray maintains that the current educational system imposes pressure on the young generation to strive for college education above any other option (Murray 4). The system disregards whether or not the student is prepared or interest in pursuing higher education. This phenomenon’s effect is the rise of misaligned ambitions, where adolescents pursue an educational career that contradicts their dreams (Murray 2). There is an overemphasis on college education at the high level, making it looks like students who fail to pursue higher education are unsuccessful in life.

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The United States institution of higher education is faced with a severe, continued decline in college enrollments and college degree graduates. The decline is caused by the steady rise in college education costs and increased unemployment and underemployment rates, making many Americans reconsider the value of a college degree. However, despite the crises, there is an increasing need to encourage many Americans to go to college and get a college degree. For instance, college degrees increase the earning potential of an employee, mass enrollment reduces prevalent socioeconomic gaps in the U.S., increases the economic and intellectual power of the nation, and places the nation’s human resource at the top of the global labor market.   Failure to promote higher education jeopardizes the United States’ role as a superpower and may pose severe economic and security threats for the country in the future.


Alon, Titan. “Earning more by doing less: Human capital specialization and the college wage premium.” manuscript, University of California at San Diego (2018). Freedman, Donna, and

Carnevale, Anthony P., Nicole Smith, and Artem Gulish. “Women can’t win: Despite making educational gains and pursuing high-wage majors, women still earn less than men.” (2018).

Gordon, Edward E. Future jobs: Solving the employment and skills crisis: Solving the employment and skills crisis. ABC-CLIO, 2013.

James Marshall Crotty. 7 Signs That U.S. Education Decline Is Jeopardizing Its National Security. Forbs. 2012.

Laura Davis. “College or Career?.” Linfield Magazine 15.1 (2018): 5.

Mariz-Pérez, Rosa M., M. Mercedes Teijeiro-Álvarez, and M. Teresa García-Álvarez. “The relevance of human capital as a driver for innovation.” Cuadernos de economía 35.98 (2012): 68-76.

Massey, Doreen, and Richard Meegan. The Anatomy of Job Loss (Routledge Revivals): The How, Why and Where of Employment Decline. Routledge, 2014.

Murray, Charles. “Are Too Many People Going to College?.” The American 8 (2008).

Parker, Kim. “The growing partisan divide in views of higher education.” Pew Research Center, August 19 (2019): 2019.

Wolff, Edward N., William J. Baumol, and Anne Noyes Saini. “A comparative analysis of education costs and outcomes: The United States vs. other OECD countries.” Economics of Education Review 39 (2014): 1-21.