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College education has become an extremely pervasive feature in todays society, with

almost 30% of people over the age of 25 with a bachelors degree or more. Naturally, this brings
to light the question of whether or not a college degree is for everybody. As you may infer, W.J.
Reeves article College Isnt for Everybody and Jay Mathews Multiplying Benefits of College
for Everybody hold quite opposing central tenants as to the topic at hand. Regardless, though,
they converge on the benefits of college to the individual. So as such, we will be comparing and
contrasting the thoughts Reeves ad Mathews have on how college affects ones career
opportunities, the overall macroeconomic and cultural effect it has, and the personal, individual
benefits of attaining a college degree.
The first and foremost point these authors make is in regards to the career opportunities
that a college degree presents. While both of these authors recognize the fact that a degree
objectively does make one more employable, they recognize fundamental differences in these
opportunities. Reeves sees that college doesnt properly prepare students for work, with its
comparatively lax grading and attendance systems, saying Such habits are unlikely to make for
a very productive worker, and implies that the career opportunities gained by a degree dont
offset the attainment process consistently enough (Reeves 342). Mathews outlook is quite
different, however. The most important thing is his mind is the fact that a degree gives an
individual much greater freedom to chose what they want to do with their life. He describes an
example where a graduate with a degree in English may choose theyd rather be a fry cook or a
midwife, but may still get satisfaction out of writing poetry in their spare time (Mathews 356).
Its evident to me that both authors, in ideal situation make good points, but, with the realities of
the worlds economic situation, its clear that Mathews idea dont quite stand up in reality, as
very few people can afford to go to college for something they cant make a quite decent living

off of, and the presupposition that career paths are as easily available to choose from as implied
doesnt quite hold water in reality.
Any institution that occupies years of such a high percentage of the populations life is
bound to have a profound impact on the nations economy and culture. Jay Mathews is quite a
vocal proponent of this idea in his article, saying that college education has a profound impact,
specifically on the less fortunate in society. Mathews cites a study following the lives of
thousands of low-income women after graduation with a degree from the City University of New
York, stating that the degrees, for the most part, helped them climb out of their poverty and
helped instill an academic mentality into their children, pointing out college's ability to change
both the economy and society as a whole ( Mathews 356-7). Reeves, on the other hand, is more
skeptical of colleges effect on the world, holding that 70% of workers in the coming decade
will not need a four-year college degree and most students would be better off with technical
certifications or no degree at all, questioning its ubiquity in society. Finally, Reeves tackles the
notion that college makes people more culturally aware, noting the facts the vast majority of
students will fight tooth and nail to avoid ever reading any of the assigned material in literature
courses and cultural awareness at all costs, via online shortcuts or outright cheating, further
debating the idea that college makes for a more cultured and well-read citizenry (Reeves 342-3).
I am inclined to largely side with Mathews on this point, as one simply cannot ignore the fact
that education has a well proven track record of alleviating poverty, but, of course sweeping
generalization cannot be made. The presence of a quite large minority of students who simply
whiz by for the degree or students are not able to bring their career goal to fruition due to the
hard economic situation are certainly to be kept in mind when considering how college for all
would affect the economy and society as a whole.

Its apparent that in one point in particular, both of these authors can find agreement, the
fact that, for the majority of cases, the individual benefits from achieving a college degree. The
vast majority of W. J. Reeves qualms with the idea of college for all are quite systemic in their
scope, pointing out flaws in the system, holding that most students wont put the effort in to get a
valuable experience out of their college education, rather than saying that the degree itself is
worthless to the individual, in fact, he even implies that 30% of workers will need a four year
college degree in the coming decades. (Reeves 342). While ostensibly holding the same view
that on the individual level, college is beneficial, Jay Mathews paints the value of college with a
much broader brush, touting the universality of its worth and holding that its an indispensable
asset to any and all. Clearly, if an education is powerful enough to shift culture and bring
thousands out of poverty, its effect on the individual student is immeasurable (Mathews 356).
Unanimity is a theme here, as simple statistics make it unavoidable to agree with the fact that a
college degree is a beneficial thing to most recipients.
Through the dissection on Reeves and Mathews articles, it becomes clear that the topic
of just how universal college should be is quite controversial. From this dissection, though, one
can realize that the short term issues caused by an influx of college graduates, such as the
devaluation of a degree, and the personal financial risks are outweighed by the proven track
record that higher education has to enhance, elevate, and enrich the lives of the majority of those

Reeves, W.J. College Isn't for Everybody. USA Today May 2003: n. pag. Print.

Mathews, Jay. Multiplying Benefits of College for Everybody. Passing the Torch (2007): n. pag.