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The military and free college education
Every year at spring time over a million high school students graduate at the age of 18 and thereafter have to choose whether to enroll into college, enlist in the military, or look for employment. This essay attempts to address reasons why this topic in discussion is rather unworkable due to the implications it has on the society, families, and individuals whom such a move could have a direct impact on their lives.
College, the military, or work?
Guidance counselors in most high schools strongly advise students to opt for the college option after high school graduation and with good reason. According to a study conducted at the Georgetown University, it has been projected that by the year 2020, more than 66% of all employment opportunities will require some degree of higher education (Selingo, 2012).
However, it is important to point that not all high school graduates have their mindsets ready for college education especially at the tender age of 18. Rooting for college education as the most appropriate path for such graduates immediately after completing high school may not favor some students. This is especially the case with those who have no idea with what they would like to do with their own lives. As such, it is common to find some students enrolled into college education have little knowledge of why they are such an institution in the first place (Selingo, 2012). This unfortunately, raises the risk of college dropouts significantly, with these college dropouts having less knowledge of what path they will then follow. In most instances, they leave more confused than when they first enrolled in to college. This unfortunate tend is similar to the English idiom that quips, “One can lead a mule to the river but cannot make it to drink from the river.” These dropout college students in most cases leave college while in debt of education loans.
In the US, higher education institutions have been accorded much attention by the Obama government as have two of the most prominent philanthropic organizations such as the Melissa and Bill gates foundation, as well as the Lumina foundation. Their sole aim is to ensure that the US has the highest percentage of adults with college education certificates in the near future. The truth is that this is essentially a very bright dream for the American people as envisaged by the current administration and is certainly in very good taste (Selingo, 2012). Unfortunately, this noble vision fails to focus on the reality facing high school graduates today as much is attempts to offer the US economy with the higher level education and skills necessary to stay afloat in the global arena.
Promoting college education and getting enrolled students to complete their particular courses successfully is a very dignified developmental objective (Herrnstein & Murray, 2010). However, too much attention is paid to the benefits of higher education and more so, time money as well as, concerted efforts are inappropriately channeled to the arguably narrow path that is higher education.
In the recent past, it has been constantly on the news that many higher education students have been experiencing hard times focusing on their studies or in financing their studies or both. This has resulted in some college students opting to drop out and engage in income generating activities or employment (Newman, Couturier & Scurry, 2010). Many say that they only joined college after much coercion from guardians and parents. Such individuals tend to drop out of college and opt for employment.
In the US, college is viewed as an option for high school graduates who are not keen on enlisting with the country’s military. However, it is important to clarify that is not the reason why the college option was adopted. College education costs have indeed increased considerably over the decades as a result of our free market oriented economy (Selingo, 2012). Both the government and parent underscore the emphasis on college education towards helping these young adults mature intellectually.
The military and higher education
The military is an option that high school graduates can take after the successful completion of their high school education. The military is known to accord a myriad of educational opportunities and benefits which, enlisted servicemen and women can indulge in whether during or after serving in the military service (Today’s Military, 2013). As such, the topic for this essay proposes that high school graduates to opt for a two year military service stint and then gain from the accruing free college education benefits.
The military option for high school graduates offers benefits which are not only financial in nature but also of a social and ethical nature. While serving in the military, these young adults get to learn of what is expected of them in a social setting as they work alongside people of older age groups, with far more experience in life and in service (Today’s Military, 2013). High school graduates serving in the military get to be taught on what entails personal discipline. Personal discipline goes a long way in aiding these students decide what they would like to do with their lives after military service. Upon joining college after military service, such discipline also plays a great role in assisting college students to plan their term between academic, extra curricula, and social activities. More so, the time spent in military service allows high school graduates to get to understand what it entails to work for ones keep (Today’s Military, 2013). They get to be more frugal as they learn how to manage personal finances which, are earned in an honest way.
Thus, making it compulsory for high school graduates to enlist with the military for two years prior to joining college could ultimately translate to a higher success rate in college education completion. Serving in the military will ensure that the to be college students will have known exactly what to do with their lives while in college, furthermore, they will have an ingrained motivation to pursue excellence (Today’s Military, 2013).
Spending two years prior to joining college is therefore, a reform that could do more good towards ensuring that the American workforce not only has an intellectually astute workforce, but also ethically disciplined people (Selingo, 2012). As such, this transition between high school graduation and college education can ideally what is much needed in ensuring that the success rate of college completion is increased and maintained.
There are, however, a number of reasons that may cause some level of discontent in having this reform agenda institutionalized. Military service at this point in American history could mean a lot to the families and societies from which these young adults hail from. America is currently engrossed in the war on terror, and as such, this war has cost many American lives. This may result in some rather unimaginable turn of events in the case where the young adults are called to fight in the war against terror. Many young people could lose their lives, suffer irreversible psychological trauma or be permanently rendered with a physical disability. The scenes we see on the different media platforms on the War in Iraq and Afghanistan will definitely go well with many anti war sentimentalists and parents alike. Thus, will be a point for contention against the proposed reform.
A shift in the attitudes of high school guidance counselors, higher education administrators and more so parents can play a pivotal role in portraying a positive image on the proposed educational reforms agenda. Americans deeply believe in the free will maxim and making it compulsory for students to enlist for military services may be viewed as being rather authoritarian. High school graduates are mostly grown up physically, but a little bit on the babies’ side when it comes to mental and emotional maturity (Selingo, 2012). Military service can in a huge way help them mature in all manner of sense such that, experiences in the military will aid them to be more proactive towards gaining the most out of the college education system.
Every new reform initiative is faced by a myriad of evolving complexities which may tend to blur the image of the goals attainable at the end of the rainbow. The education system as a whole needs to put this into consideration such that this will eventually translate to a more stable economy. College dropout rates are not in any way healthy though some individuals such as Bill Gates made the most out of a bad situation. College education is vital for a thriving economy, and a patriotic endeavor towards economic growth can only be sustained by an ever more intellectual workforce, only attainable through college education.
Herrnstein, R. J. & Murray, C. (2010). Bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. Detroit: Free Press.
Newman, F., Couturier, L., & Scurry, J. (2010). The future of higher education: Rhetoric, reality, and the risks of the market. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Selingo, J. (2012). On Students’ Paths to College, Some Detours Are Desirable. Retrieved on 6 June, 2013 from http://chronicle.com/article/On-the-Path-to-College-Some/135910/
Today’s Military. (2013). Education Support. Retrieved on 6 June, 2013 from http://www.todaysmilitary.com/military-benefits/education-support