Understanding the Impact of Higher Education

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Rethinking Education: Understanding the Real Impact of Higher Education on People's Lives Abstract This paper explores the notion that college or higher education is something that is of real and meaningful benefit to everyone. An overview of cultural attitudes and messages regarding higher education is given, followed by the findings of research that present an understanding of why people select to go to college and receive a higher education, finding that aside from cultural pressures (which are substantial) monetary/employment benefits are highly desired. Evidence that suggests these benefits, though often cited as expectations based on cultural beliefs, are not as substantial or as consistent as might be believed, and that the costs of obtaining a college degree are quite substantial. Introduction A college degree is often thought of as a "golden ticket" of sorts, providing magical access to a world of respect, higher earning potential, and general success. One statistic often quoted by guidance counselors and college advertisers is that people with a bachelor's degree earn more than a million dollars more in their lifetime than those without degrees. Whether or not this is true and what other variables might potentially affect earnings and thus make the relationship between earnings and education far less direct than implied notwithstanding, the idea that a college education is of direct benefit to everyone is something that definitely needs to be critically
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