Education is a focal point in any society. What are we if we are not intelligent? Thomas Jefferson said "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." Obviously, we want everyone to be educated and informed.
We have taken great strides to ensure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to inform and educate themselves. Are these measures working? Well, let's take a look at the few things we have accomplished. Public schooling has ensured a collective agreement on the spread of information. In fact, an organization has been established called the "Common Core" which seeks to ensure that curriculum is the same across the country.
Private schooling still exists, and even Home Schooling is still around to give us the opportunity to educate our children ourselves. College has taken it's place as institutes for higher learning. Going above and beyond the every day skills we need to interact with society and giving us education to work towards our dreams.
Colleges like MIT even spread their curriculum around the internet for free, in the hopes of a more educated world. Technical colleges teach trade skills that are vital for the infrastructure of our society. Despite ALL of these advancements to educate our people, are we really that much smarter?
It really all depends on how you look at it. Yes, we are smarter. There is no debating this fact when looking at the past. But are we as intelligent as we could be? I would say no. The problem comes from the lack of understanding when viewing education and schooling. As someone who chose not to go to college for many reasons, I am viewed by potential employers as less desirable. This is true even for jobs I would excel at given a little time and training.
This isn't a personal vendetta against the system, mind you. My problem lies in the fact that there are many other intelligent people out there like me who made a choice. We aren't stupid. Our actions show a vested interest in higher learning. Yet we are still seen as less intelligent to many because of our choice to not go to college.
And even those who DID go to college have little to show for it these days. Unemployment rates for college graduates is almost as high as it is for those who didn't go. A huge chunk of college graduates have jobs that aren't even in their field of study. There are a lucky few who have achieved what they want from their lives through college education.
The way we view college needs to change. It is NOT a pointless institution. It is also NOT a necessity. Not to mention, college may not be the best way for all of us to learn. Even still, I think it's important to take a good long look at the way the college standard is driving our society. Thankfully the internet is changing the game entirely.
Creating opportunity for everyone to learn so long as they seek it is what we need. Don't be afraid to get involved with the communities around your passion. Whether that's a hobby like sewing, collecting stamps, or wood working. Or even if it's what you went to college for(i.e. Quantum Mechanics, German Art in WWII, Economics, or Leisure studies), spread the knowledge around! Creating those communities is what will give everyone the opportunity to learn!
This is how we should view higher education. Not through an institution like college.