Despite being a university student myself, I want to voice my unpopular opinion on why free college education is not a right, but a privilege.
Very recently, I came across a two-year old video where a Northeastern student, Keely Mullen, attempted to argue in favor of a $15 dollar minimum wage for students living on campus, a cancellation of student debt, and free public college.
When asked simple questions such as where the funding is going to be coming from, Keely argued that the top 1% should pay for these services, even though the facts show that if the government taxed 100% of the top earners, they would not be able to keep Medicaid running for one year! In this article, I am not going to be providing reasons why services such as free public college are unsustainable, but I will be voicing my opinion on why students simply do not have this right.
Quite frankly, everyone deserves the opportunity to go to college, but not everyone deserves to go to college per se. Higher education is not meant to be taken lightly; you must be willing to put the hard work, dedication, and long hours in order to get a valuable degree. If college was free for everyone, whether that same degree is valuable comes into question. We would see way more people pursuing the same degree, which is extremely problematic when it is time to find a job post-graduation because of the increased competition.
Also, we could expect to see a decrease in the quality of education. Think about it this way: If you were a professor and spent years acquiring a Ph.D., you would expect to be handsomely compensated for the extensive amount of knowledge you have acquired in your specific area of study. If college suddenly became free, you would most definitely not be making the six-figure salary you were making before and would have a reduced incentive to provide top-notch education to your students. Even if teaching is your passion, seeking another higher paying job would probably at least slipped your mind.
People in favor of free college may believe that people would have more freedom to follow their dreams and be successful without worrying about the financial aspect of it. One problem with this view is probably the definition of being ‘successful.’ Do people need a college education to be successful? Entrepreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs clearly say otherwise.
To me, being successful means having a vision, and working as hard as possible to achieve that vision—no matter what obstacles come in the way. You do not need a college education to be successful, and nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams and aspirations. Having a right to something means that your dignity as a human being would be sacrificed if you did not have that right. While the right to liberty and freedom are quintessential to your essence as a human being, the college education is simply not.
Another problem with this view is this: does everyone deserve the luxury of not having to worry about the financial aspect of the college education? The reality is, the funding has to come from somewhere—taxes. Although pro free-college individuals claim that it is the ‘fair’ thing to do, there is a difference between equity and equality.
Taking money from wealthy, hard-working individuals is simply not the right thing to do. Would you feel happy if somebody took away your hard-earned money just to pay for someone else’s education? How do you know if they worked hard enough to deserve it?
It is correct saying that college education prices have skyrocketed over the years. This is an unfortunate reality, and a lot of it has to do with an increased number of students taking out loans and being wound up in debt. However, having a free college education is not the correct way to address this problem, because nothing in this world is free.
What the government needs to do is find a solution of how to make college more affordable, which is outside the scope of my article. In the meantime, students loans are all we’ve got, and even though students such as myself will be in a lot of debt when we graduate, we borrowed this money because we wanted an education.
If you work hard enough, scholarships and grants may be able to get you through college completely free, except the difference is that in this light, your hard work has got you through.
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