The COVID-19 pandemic has put into question the value of a college education. While tuition costs have risen significantly over time, for many families, going away to college, being in the classroom, living in a dorm, meeting friends in the quad, or studying in the library is a rite of passage to adulthood. A quality college education produces a critical thinker and creative problem solver who can communicate effectively with others, move past setbacks, navigate social environments, make ethical decisions, and be a productive team member. College is a financial investment that focuses on attaining career options by achieving educational goals, and relies heavily on social integration and experimentation.
Even in the most selective colleges, those featuring 95%+ graduation rates, fulfilling the promise of a college degree also demands academic and social intervention. Yes, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and any selective college has extensive services, an army of well-trained staff, faculty, specialized experts, and abundant resources ready to provide services targeting all aspects of student life and offering accommodations for potential barriers. Colleges invest heavily in tutoring, mentoring, mental health services, medical care, food pantries, and for many of those students, the school itself becomes an oasis in managing dysfunctional families, dealing with trauma, opening the door to self-acceptance and daring to reject belief systems that made diversity an afterthought and structural and overt racism common practice. Many students from higher income households have a lifetime of access to services that supplement learning, take part in cultural exposure, and rarely have to worry about mental and health care services.
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