Hunter Rawlings’ article “College is not a commodity. Stop treating it like one” delivers a critique regarding the tendency of the society to perceive and analyze the value of college education in purely economic terms. According to Rawlings, society has largely reduced the university degree to the level of a commodity. This aspect is evident in the notion that the commodification of university or college degrees forms a large part of the most debated ideas in the realm of higher education. The author embarks on the effort to prove these societal perceptions wrong by seeking to highlight the notion that the true value of university education extends beyond the economic gains associated with gaining a diploma. The article continues to make some substantial distinctions between gaining an education and merely acquiring a college degree. The article certainly sheds more insight regarding the extent to which colleges should be responsible for preparing students for the workforce and awakening their intellects.
In an era characterized by constant complaints that college graduates do not have the relevant skills to engage in the modern workforce, colleges have a responsibility to make up for the inconsistency. Nevertheless, such an effort should not necessarily imply that colleges ought to deviate from their main objectives, which involve awakening and expanding the minds of their students. Deviation from this mission is equally detrimental since it stifles critical thinking and creative innovation, which are fundamental requirements for a bright future. In this context, the idea of solely focusing on preparing students for engagement in the workforce is significantly narrow. Additionally, embarking on such an effort requires an enhanced emphasis on specialization, which is considerably risky.
According to Rawlings, adopting this form of thinking towards education can have pernicious outcomes. Chief among these outcomes is the perception and treatment of college in legislative circles as “purveyors of goods, students as consumers, and degrees as products.” Another key outcome is the perception that colleges hold the responsibility of ensuring excellent outcomes for the students. This perception has some significant implications for the students, the colleges, and the public. The notion that colleges hold the responsibility for the outcomes triggers a sense of entitlement among the students. The feeling of entitlement is notable in classes that do not necessarily challenge their efforts. The rating of colleges tends to incorporate the foundation on measures such as graduation rates. However, the measures often fail to account for the notion that such outcomes do not entirely depend on colleges. They are also dependent on the efforts of the students.College is not a commodity. Stop treating it like one
As opposed to a commodity, college represents a challenging endeavor that should prompt the students and the institutions to actively engage in the realization of the true value of education. Colleges face the responsibility of inspiring, prodding and creating engaging environments that enable the stimulation of the intellect, thus facilitating learning. At the same time, the students ought to realize that the efforts of gaining adequate preparation to engage in the workforce and mental stimulation is also their responsibility. This realization should trigger the students to commit themselves towards the achievement of the objectives they set for themselves. The objectives may be the acquisition of the skills necessary for productivity in the workforce. Alternatively, they may revolve around the awakening or stimulation of the intellect. Regardless of the objective, colleges exist as tools for ensuring the relevant outcomes the students aim to achieve.