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The Contender
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The cost of a college education outweighs the benefits

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/23/2012 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,382 times Debate No: 24405
Debate Rounds (5)
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First, let me show give you some definitions to you Judge

We would like to define ‘costs’

We would like to define ‘costs’ as the tuition, textbooks, time, and the government’s money we’ll explain in depth later.

The standard or Weighing Mechanism for today’s debate should be Efficiency

We use Efficiency as a standard or weighing mechanism for today’s debate. We would like to state that colleges are good for individuals, family, and our society

Judge, all of our contentions will refer to the observation that colleges are good. Please don’t let our opponents trick you into believing that we, as the Affirmative, think that colleges are bad.

We chose efficiency because we think of colleges as good, but they have too high prices.
Imagine college education as a stock. One buys a stock and they hope their stock will rise in value so they can sell it for a better price. You may not buy a stock that has a high price since the probability of selling the stock later for higher is very little. The same thing is with a college education. You may buy a college education if the prices are low with a better chance of gaining a well paying salary in the future but you may not if the prices are high with a chance of a low paying salary in the future. This is why we argue Efficiency.

With that we have 3 main arguments.

Contention 1. The Individual Staindpoint
We are worried that the costs of a college education will ruin someone’s life...or rather more than one. According to the New York Times, college graduates under 25 that have a humanities major, 25.2% of them are not working, 29.4% have job that doesn’t even require a college education. Only 45.5% of them are working in jobs that require a college education. That isn’t even half! Obviously the cost is not worth the benefit. Carl E. Van Horn, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University said to the Huffington Post that "Not every graduate program leads to a guaranteed job. You likely already have debt and you're going to incur more debt and what's it going to translate into down the road?" asked Van Horn. "While it's okay to major in cultural anthropology, understand that you may not end up as the next Margaret Mead. You may end up as the manager of a Sports Authority."
This quote shows that not all graduate degrees will guarantee you a job, much less a well paying salary or a job that requires a college degree. You will most probably always be in debt.

Contention 2. Government Standpoint

Loaning to high school graduates is all fine but this is not an efficient way to do things.

This money that is going to the high school graduates’ loans but they are being wasted with all the unemployment rates of college graduates being in debt. These college graduates are unable to pay their debt. This has led to parts of the Occupy Movement. These graduates are protesting to the government and asking them if they can not pay back the loans. If you, Judge, were looking at these protesters from a government standpoint, you would see all that money being wasted in the loans for the high school graduates and taking care of the protests.

“It's a phenomenon familiar to economists. If you offer people a subsidy to pursue some activity requiring an input that's in more-or-less fixed supply, the price of that input goes up” - This says that if there are government subsidies, the price grows. Since right now, we have government subsidies and that is what is bringing the costs up.

Contention 3 - Societal Benefits
As I stated in my second argument, subsidies are a waste. This money spent on subsidies could be used to improve public services including airports, roads, and the k-12 Education. Obama himself said in a recent speech that airports, roads, and bridges needed more money, according to CNS News. If we take away these subsidies, the extra money could go to there public services. Also, building and bettering airports, roads, and the k-12 system could supply more jobs, stimulating the economy, which, Judge, we all know is in very bad shape.

The k-12 system especially needs some help.
Only 7% of US students performs at an advanced level in math putting us behind 25 other countries.
Only 32% of US students are proficient in math, placing us 32nd in the world
-newsweek Aug 2011
As you can see, abolishing college subsidies goes a long way.


I’d like to thank my opponent for this debate and also apologize for the late response. Before I begin addressing the contentions, I’d like to point out some issues associated with the way my opponent has set up this debate.

First of all, because my opponent has not set any specifications for the term “college”, I’m going to assume that he’s referring to post secondary education in the United States.

Additionally, we must also place a distinction between the inherent and extrinsic costs of college. For example, we can still have colleges without student loans; it is simply the government’s choice whether or not to distribute them. Ergo, student loans are not an inherent cost of a college education; they are simply extrinsic costs that should not be associated with the “cost” of maintaining a college, making my opponent’s second contention a moot point.

We must also draw a distinction between private and public colleges, as they are funded differently and receive different kinds of subsidies, which I will address in the contentions.

===THE CASE===

Do individuals benefit from investing in a college education?

My opponent’s case hinges on the belief that college education does not necessarily lead to a career or a decent salary. To prove his point, he posts a bunch of unsourced statistics: “College graduates under 25 that have a humanities major, 25.2% of them are not working, 29.4% have job that doesn’t even require a college education. Only 45.5% of them are working in jobs that require a college education”.

The first problem with this argument is that the statistics he uses to back it up are biased and inconclusive. Obviously some majors are more likely to yield careers than other majors. To put this skewed statistic in perspective, only 4.2% of university graduates are unemployed six months after graduating if we account all majors [1]. Additionally, whether the job they land requires a college education is irrelevant, because a college degree is still an important credential which helps secure employment (even if I were looking for a cashier, I’d rather higher a cashier with a diploma than one without).

The second problem with this argument is that it needs some relative statistics to put the information presented in perspective. This relativity is essential because without it, we don’t know whether the high unemployment rates are the result of an inefficient college education or just a frail economy, and when we look at the employment rates for America as a whole, what we find is that high school graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed when compared to college graduates. We can safely conclude that despite side proposition’s misleading statistics, college graduates do have a significantly higher employment rate because of their investment in a post secondary education.

This idea of relativity brings me to my constructive argument. The fact is that when we tally up unemployment rates, the degree you major in, the number of years it takes to major and everything, what we find is that the individual with a bachelor’s degree earns, on average, almost 1 million dollars more than the individual with only a high school diploma [2]. I’d gladly invest $20,000 – $30,000 for a million dollar return. Monetarily speaking, from the individual standpoint, college is an efficient investment and much more beneficial than costly.

Additionally, one must not forget the experience of college, which, to many students, is priceless. Skipping college would mean missing out on college means missing valuable education, networking, and social opportunities (such as college parties). So unlike what my opponent suggests, the average college graduate will most likely not “always be in debt”. What’s more likely is that you’ll go to college, have a great time, and land a career that’ll net you almost a million dollars more than your high school graduate neighbors.

Because of the reasons that I have stated, college is clearly beneficial from an individual standpoint.

Does the government/society benefit from investing in a college education?

My opponent’s argument here is essentially just pointing out how the government has to subsidize colleges, and that the subsidies can go into other much needed investments. This argument falls because my opponent does not state how much money goes into the college subsidies (like saying there is a cost, without saying how much the cost is), and because college subsidies need to be broken down to the cost of college per se and extraneous costs.

This needs to be broken down further into subsidies for private and public colleges. When subsidizing public colleges, the government needs to fund the entire cost of building and maintaining the college. I accept that this is a cost of a college education, but I’d just like to point out that the tuition costs of public colleges goes back to government coffers.

When subsidizing private colleges, the government basically does three things.

The first thing that the government does to subsidize private colleges is offer students financial aid. I have already explained why student loans should be dismissed, as they are not a direct cost of college. Even if my opponent can somehow prove that they are, the point about the inefficiency of providing student loans falls because government loans/subsidies per student have been falling due to increasing attendance rates, and tuition has still never been higher.

The government also gives grants for research teams. However, these grants cannot fully be considered subsidies because we are essentially buying information, which is something we benefit from.

Lastly, the government gives tax breaks to private colleges. If we disregard financial aid, private colleges are basically a self sustaining, mutually beneficial industry, that does not have a cost.

Finally, I’d like to point out that post secondary education is often cited as the most powerful contributor to social mobility, something that society and individuals benefit from.


I was a little confused when constructing my arguments because of some of my opponent’s arguments. His last to arguments really seem to be about abolishing college subsidies and redirecting it to investments in things such as infrastructure, which I actually agree with. However, as I have explained, these are not inherent costs of a college education; they are simply inefficient ways that the government handles its money. My opponent seems to agree with me that the benefits of college per se outweighs it’s cost, and that it’s just the inefficient way the government approaches it that is the problem. Therefore, the resolution is negated because the benefits of a college education outweigh its cost; the only problem is the misappropriation of government funds.

I thank the readers and hand the debate back to my opponent.



Debate Round No. 1


I did state my sources. Since that is your only refutation, I should win


I'm not exactly sure how to respond.

A) You did not source your arguments like I asked of you. Simply stating them is not enough, I could pull out any statistic or quote and say it came from a newspaper.

B) You haven't read my arguments. For example, I rebutted your contention on the individual's standpoint by pointing out that in the long run College graduates earn nearly twice as much as high school graduates, making investing 20,000 - 30,000 dollars in post-secondary education an efficient and thoroughly beneficial investment.

Please take the time to reread and construct actual arguments before posting your response. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


I concede and forfeit
Debate Round No. 3


WesternGuy2 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


WesternGuy2 forfeited this round.


It is quite unfortunate that my opponent decided to forfeit.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by brandonhall.7370013 5 years ago
Honestly I agree with one elephant that he did not do this debate As described but in my opinion when I was reading this that he infant did state his sources so here by declaring by Brandon hall level 2 debater medium expert the real winner is westernguy2 because his points were valid but I think one. Elephant had good points too so In this case firmly declared by statewide judge One Elephant won this case sorry westernguy2
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by ceruleanpolymer 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF