In the modern world education is one of the criteria by which a person is estimated to be worthy or not. Education definitely determines the person’s status at work, in a company of friends, and in the society as a whole. But the question is if being an educated person always means having got a good education at a college or university. A degree can usually provide a person with a proper job. But can it always make the one an educated person? Probably, being educated means much more than just finishing high school or getting a degree. Being educated means being capable of thinking analytically, making rational conclusions and judgments; it also means having a good level of knowledge in various spheres and being, in general, intellectually mature.
For several decades already a college degree has been considered a key to a better life. It is often thought to be “a prerequisite to entering the middle class in the United States” (Owen & Sawhill, 1). Therefore, more and more people are striving for that opportunity, even though it often means getting into huge student debts. Barack Obama’s call for making higher education “an economic imperative” in the country has also had its effect in spurring the rush. The number of college enrollments has increased; however, due to high tuition fees and, consequently, enormous loans to be paid after the graduation, the completion rates are not so pleasing (Smith, 45). Thus, the question arises if a college or university degree is really as important in defining how able a person is and how professionally he or she can do a certain job.
Definitely, it does depend on the kind of job to be done. A lot of jobs undoubtedly require thorough preparation and a vast volume of knowledge on the subject that an institution specializing in providing this knowledge can give. Besides, colleges and universities usually teach students various subjects, even more general ones, which means the graduates are supposed to be knowledgeable in different spheres. Suri says that “the college experience is an immersion of the individual in a sea of ideas, perspectives and provocations” (Suri). College or university education broadens students’ view of the world and enables them to make more grounded judgments whenever it may be necessary. Researchers even warn that “the accumulation of expert knowledge in one arena is positively dangerous if it is not grounded in a broad, deep and humane understanding of the human condition and a well-grounded moral sensibility” (Tucker). Thus, higher education, which provides broader knowledge, makes people educated not only in the meaning of having been educated and given a degree, but rather in the meaning of having been made intelligent and knowledgeable. Probably, for that reason a certificate of higher education is so valued and often required by potential employers and, as a result, potential employees are so eager to get the document which can open the doors, as a rule, closed to them without a degree certificate.
Some people may say that evaluating people and their capabilities by the fact whether they have a document certifying it or not is a stereotype or prejudice. There have been enough examples in history when people without higher or specialized education became successful and even prosperous. Sadly, there have also been multiple examples of those who even having a certificate of higher education cannot be named truly educated. For instance, Alfie Kohn confesses that his wife who has a PhD in medicine and is a successful practicing physician does not know the multiplication table well enough and is unaware who Faulkner is (Kohn). But these examples only prove that every rule has an exception. People can be talented and sufficiently able to find all the knowledge about the necessary subject and beyond it themselves. But it must be emphasized that only really gifted or determined people can obtain all necessary knowledge by their own, without any outside help. Therefore, an opportunity of being taught by highly qualified educators and PhD holders at colleges and universities is truly worth the cost and efforts. Educators provide students with free access to resources of knowledge and direct students’ efforts in the right way.
Of course, due to the fact that development never stops, education is undoubtedly a never-ending, life-long experience. Any experience a person has in life can educate. However, only an intelligent person can benefit from any experience. The wider knowledge of the world and its resources, which higher education can provide, can help people develop continuously. The level of education people eventually will have greatly depends on the intellectual basis they have and on their desire to go on developing. So, colleges and universities just show the direction which students must follow to continue their education process throughout their lives. Suri asserts that college is “a mind-expanding enterprise, setting its participants on a path of continued exploration and learning that is hard to replicate any other way” (Suri). If a person does not want to study, read, and analyze information received, no college or distinguished professor can change it.
So, quite relevant is the question asked by Alfie Kohn in his article: “Does the phrase well-educated refer to a quality of the schooling you received, or to something about you?” (Kohn) It seems that the more logic variant to answer this question would be the latter one. To be well-educated means the result of your efforts, no matter who or what may have helped you in achieving this result. Schooling does broaden your knowledge and increases your opportunities in getting more from life as well as from books. Schooling is “an intensive training of the intellect and the senses” (Suri); it helps people understand how wide the surrounding world is and much knowledge it provides. So, truly educated person does realize that it is impossible to know everything, but one must strive to know more. Therefore, even a well-educated person may happen not to know something; but this well-educated person can usually find the way to get to the answer.
So, what characteristics should a person possess to be called educated? Firstly, an educated person is usually capable of thinking clearly and making independent judgments. Secondly, an educated person knows how necessary information can be obtained and understands what learning means. Thirdly, an educated person is aware of the available resources and is capable of using them. Besides, an educated person is usually able to utilize different approaches to find the most efficient one. Furthermore, educated people can not only understand the things themselves but also communicate them to others. So, they usually possess good rhetoric qualities, which are actually the result of learning and extensive reading as well. Moreover, if people are well-educated, they do not usually accept things blindly, but rather doubt and analyze them in order to make reasonable conclusions. This ability to recognize errors and false information is undoubtedly based on the profound knowledge in different areas. In general, an educated person is supposed to have a good overview of natural sciences, geography, history, social sciences, philosophy and literature as well as have a deep knowledge in a particular professional field. And returning to the subject and necessity of higher education, it must be said that most, if not all, abilities of an educated person mentioned above can definitely be imparted though study at college or university. Therefore, the role of higher educational institutions on the path of becoming an educated person should never be denied.
Kohn, Alfie. “What Does It Mean to be Well-Educated?” Principal Leadership, March 2003. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.
Owen, Stephanie, and Isabel Sawhill. “Should Everyone Go to College.” CCF Brief 50, May 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.
Smith, Craig. “Student Debt.” On Campus, Fall 2013: 42-46. Web. 3 Feb. 2016.
Suri, Jeremi. “What is an educated person?” The Daily Texan, 4 May 2015. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.
Tucker, Marc. “What Does It Mean to Be an Educated Person Today?” Education Week, 8 Oct. 2015. Web. 4 Feb. 2016.