Does College Matter?

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The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” These are but a few of the seemingly innumerable quotes on one of the most commented-upon subjects in human civilization: Education. Diogenes, William Butler Yeats, and Martin Luther King Jr. have ample company in their commentary, and there is good reason: Education is the foundation of modern societies; it is each nation’s investment in its future laid bare.

Few would deny that education opens up worlds of opportunity. From my personal experience, I have seen how education not only arms people with the skills to find success, but opens minds by exposing students to world views and ways of thinking that are different than their own. From an economist’s perspective, I see the irrefutable data that investing in education is crucial to economic success. There is no such thing as a developed economy that does not educate its people universally; it is a prerequisite to prosperity.

The three essays in this report highlight various aspects of education, though they are by no means exhaustive—a full examination of education would take up far more space than allotted here. Instead, we consider three areas of common discussion and debate: That yes, college is still worth it, that education is constantly changing, and that, done right, one’s education should never end.

Education extends beyond formal teaching or the walls of a classroom. The essays in this year’s report are a commendation of all forms of scholarship and praise of lifelong learning. Or, in the words of Abigail Adams, “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

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