Education: A Positive Externality Turned Negative by BreC


The Economic Price of College Failure, is an article about colleges failing to deliver an efficient education to students, which hinders their transition into the corporate world. A study was performed in 2005 on students enrolled in four year colleges; from this study the book Academically Adrift was produced. It was realized students who independently studied had a higher rate of succeeding in the professional world, than students who went to class on a daily basis. Incoming freshman in the class of 2005 graduated during the time of the recession. This study showed that, these students were more likely to be unemployed or underemployed after graduation; because their colleges failed to give them the proper education. The purpose of this article and book was to show that colleges are failing society by failing their students (Carey, page 1)

Education is a positive externality. The reason being, when a person is educated the assumption is they have the power to be more productive than an uneducated person. Productivity in regards to education is measured by the quality of the job a student can receive. For example, if a person has a college education, they are more likely to seek a corporate job; rather than an underpaying job. This means that person will make a higher salary. In return, this person will have a higher purchasing power because they will have more money to spend on goods and services. Spending stabilizes the economy because it sends money back into it, and limits government interference. However, education becomes a negative externality when, the education received is not efficient, and the students who are thought to be able to handle corporate jobs under perform. 

Government Interference 

College education is heavily based on critical thinking. Being able to pass a test just simply means, that a student has the ability to remember information for a period of time; however, this does not correlate with performance. Normally, students focus on passing test rather than truly retaining the information. Therefore, governments should force colleges to change their curriculum. Instead of grades being based on testing it should be based on performance. The government should make the college experience correlate to the real world. Instead of professors teaching their students materials, and their students being tested, they should be made to apply it to real life. For example, if an accounting class is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. A lecture should be given on Monday; this way professors can be sure the students learn the new concept. On Wednesday, students should be made to go to a site (an accounting firm), and apply the information they learned from the lecture in real life. Lastly, on Friday, it should be a reflection. During the reflection, students can discuss their successes and failures, and professors can give them solutions to the failures they had. At the end, students should be required to submit a portfolio. This would ensure students fully understand, and can apply the material they are learning because they would be putting the material into practice. Eliminating testing would give the students the ability to retain and apply information, rather than just temporarily remember it. 

Governments should also make college education free, or more affordable. When students are at a point where they can go to college; they are either discouraged because they cannot afford it, or overwhelmed with how they will pay for it. Many college students pay for their own education. When a student does not attend class, a teacher automatically penalizes the student instead of trying to figure out the problem. The student could be working to pay for college, and be physically burned out. If college education were made free it would lessen the load placed on students, which would give them more energy to devote to their studies. It would also encourage students to apply to college instead of automatically thinking they cannot afford it. If the model of college was changed to learn and apply, and college was made free students would receive the maximum benefit of the college experience. Which is, students would be able to take what they learned, and apply it to real life. 


Education is only a positive externality when the education being delivered is efficient. If students cannot take the material they learned from college, and apply it to a job, colleges have failed their students. Instead of focusing on how well a student does on test, the college model needs to be changed to learn and apply. The reason being, if students are applying the material they learn in class to a field of their choice, by the time four years is completed they will have a greater experience in this field. This means entry level jobs can be eliminated, and college students can automatically receive a higher salary once graduating. Also if college was made free or more affordable, more students would be willing to attend. Ultimately, the more skilled workers an economy has, the more stable the economy. The goal of college should be to maximize the number of attendants and maximize efficiency because this strategy will ultimately stabilize the economy in the future. 








Work Cited

Carey, Kevin. “The Economic Price of Colleges’ Failures.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.


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