Should Higher Education Be Free?

President Obama unveils his free community college plan. Image courtesy of http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/01/09/obama-announces-free-community-college-plan/
President Obama unveils his free community college plan. Image courtesy of http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/01/09/obama-announces-free-community-college-plan/

Jacqueline Torres, General Studies

Much debate and controversy has sprouted over the proposal of President Obama’s new plan to make community college free. While it is easy for many of us to jump the gun and presume that college should be free for all, all this speculation has left me unsure about whether or not making college education free would help or hurt the country.

For one, would such availability of a college education cause it to lose its value? Rather, will kids take advantage and interpret this opportunity to expand their knowledge and better their future as being just an extension of high school? After all, there are numerous cases where kids have taken advantage of the public education they receive in high school by dropping out. Of course, college would not be mandatory, but in a sense, kids already take advantage of their education even when they are paying for it. Some take years off, others fall through the cracks as a result of partying. Many of which might even be attending the university on a full scholarship. For some, the mere fact that college is so difficult to get in to, and getting granted a scholarship is even more difficult, gives these select students the drive and determination to do well in high school. Would taking away this entity of competition and scarcity hinder the academic achievement of students?

In another sense, a free college education would alleviate or smooth over the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Sure, the rich will still stay rich, but the lower and middle class people will now have the same opportunities to reach their desired level of income without having to worry about a $25,000 tuition a year. Giving every child, regardless of class, a right to an education would further advance the country in jobs, innovation, and technology. For one, many bright kids are denied this opportunity of learning for the simple fact that they can not afford it.

In reviewing both sides to this controversial proposal, free college education would get my vote. No American should be denied the opportunity to educate themselves because of their financial status. And with the easier availability of technology, particularly online collaboration, free higher education seems closer within reach.

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