Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Postsecondary Success


Postsecondary Success Notes | The Value of College

Welcome to the lazy, hazy days of summer…or if you are at my house, the scramble to arrange play dates and find the camping gear that we stashed somewhere last fall.

As we head into vacation season, I’m taking time to pause and reflect on some of the bigger questions that drive the work we do every day. One that is on my mind is the debate over the value of college.

Like many of you, I am both disheartened and encouraged by how this debate is unfolding. I’m disheartened because I see a resurgence of the “college is not for everyone” narrative. Does everyone need a four-year degree? Absolutely not. But does everyone need – and deserve – the opportunity for education after high school? Absolutely. And as a parent, I am very frustrated with the implicit message that higher education is for my kids but not for someone else’s. It is bad for our economy and our society.

But I am encouraged by the fact that 90 percent of Americans consistently say that they see the value of education after high school for themselves and their families. And as Allan Golston, president of our U.S. Program, recently pointed out, we must not confuse concern about college affordability (a desire and growing issue) with a belief that “college isn’t worth it.”

So let’s stop the hand-wringing and arguing about who should go to college and focus our energy on how to make college – everything from certificates to graduate degrees – an affordable option for more Americans.

Patrick Methvin