In the wake of Bernie Sanders endorsing Hillary Clinton (and consequently leaving the race, officially), I have been looking closer at his policies, particularly his stance on college; free college. Of course, any knowledgeable person knows that college won’t actually be free: the government will tax everyone at a higher rate, and all of the money will be pooled together into one pot to collectively pay for everyone’s college. I find this idea of “free” college to be a bad idea. I understand the practical side of the argument: that it may help get more people into the work force, but this is not compelling in my worldview in any way. I personally hold to the idea of personal responsibility for all adults: each and every man or woman should be responsible for their own lives, and this includes getting any sort of formal education. If you desire further education in your life, then it is on you to pay for your own college.
This logic applies to pretty much everything else in your life: if you want a computer, or a house, or any sort of good, you have to work for it yourself. And yes, I think that college education can properly be compared to these goods I exemplified. College education is something more than a basis of knowledge: it is knowledge that is specific to your job, and is a choice that you make according to how you want to live your life. To most people, it would be absurd to think that we should tax everybody at a higher rate just so we could provide computers for everyone, so why should it be done for our college education? In both cases, they are something provided to people who choose to pay for them. Under democratic socialism it is essentially asserted that everyone desires these things, so we may as well distribute it out to all of them. This is not true. Not everyone needs college education to get through life: believe it or not, it is not a necessity for every job. Under democratic socialism, any person who makes the decision to not go to college will then be forced against their will to pay for everyone else’s education. I call this extortion. If this is to be avoided, it only makes sense to leave the expenses to each individual person.
A common objection to this idea is that our K-12 education in America is done the democratic socialist way. This is true, but you would be ignoring some important distinctions that set it apart. First, K-12 education is a requirement, so this removes the choice element that is so important when rejecting “free” college. Second, as I stated in the beginning, personal responsibility is something that every adult should have; this distinction matters. Children need to be provided for, even if they generally don’t want it. Every child needs to have a base education in order to get through life, so an exception must be made here. Once you graduate high school and become a legal adult, you enter a new phase of your life where you are forced to make a choice: where do you want to go with your life? And based on that decision comes the choice of whether you go to college; like any adult, you will then have to work to receive what you want.
Another objection would be the cost of college. College is so expensive these days; you literally see the complaints about student loan debts every day of the week. Students graduate college with debts ranging as high as eighty thousand dollars, if not more. This is incomprehensibly large. And colleges do this to them; they go for an education, and they leave worse off than before because they’ll be stuck paying debts for the rest of their lives. But whose fault is that? How could you possibly think that racking up a mountain of debt was worth it? If your education was too important, then you could have gone somewhere cheaper. Here’s a heartbreaking fact for you: not everyone can go to the big prestigious college. I recognize that people grow up being told they are special snowflakes, but they need to get it into their heads that there are some things you quite simply cannot do. Did you get accepted into Harvard? Can you also go into a smaller campus nearer to home? Which to choose? Well, if you want to choose, then you’ll have to break it down financially. If you find that you’ll be able to pay off all but twenty thousand dollars of your expenses each year at Harvard, then don’t go! And if you do end up going, don’t complain when you live the rest of your natural life smothered by debt; that was your choice, so it’s your fault; don’t listen to your parents if they tell you otherwise: they’re wrong.
I deliberately took steps to avoid taking out student loans. First, I worked nearly full time during high school; then I saved all of that cash. I also did well in school and applied for scholarships. Then I went to a local college and paid for all of my education upfront. I transferred to a larger college when my education required it, but this was because it was a requirement. I did really well and the college gave me even more money that carried over into the larger college. But the important bit is that I never took out a student loan. Ever. How could I want to? I didn’t want to land myself into debt, and fortunately, my parents agreed. So, if you want to, or need to go to college, then be smart about it. Most people want to stroke their ego and go to some big, prestigious college like Harvard, but that doesn’t make you intelligent; in fact, more often than not, it is probably one of the dumbest decisions you could possibly make.
So no, college should not be free. College is a choice made by individuals, and in the case that they choose to go some other route they should not have their cash forcibly taken from them through excessive taxes. Adults are responsible for their own lives, and this extends to college education. Just because people are incapable of being responsible when it comes to spending money does not mean they need to be coddled and helped along. Your choices have consequences, and protecting people from them will only make the situation worse: they will never learn from their mistakes. And it is fair by this world’s standards. Whether you like it or not, making people pay for their own college education is as fair as you can get.