The College Degree Essay

The College Degree Essay

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The College Degree
“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” (Theodore Roosevelt). Education is a common theme seen throughout literature and history. It is considered respectable to have a college education in this day and age. Zora Neale Hurston explores the theme of education through college education in Mules and Men while Langston Hughes examines the theme of education in his poems through experience, specifically the Negro Speaks of Rivers. Hurston criticizes the common dominant conception that a college degree means you are intelligent while a lack of a degree symbolizes a lack of intelligence, while Hughes proves that education and intelligence is brought about through experience and journeys and not through a college education. Being an intelligent and successful person does not require a college degree. Not all people are blessed with a chance to attend and pay for college.
Zora Neale Hurston graduated from Barnard College, yet she ridicules the idea of a college education throughout Mules and Men. She graduated from high school when she was in her twenties and had to fake her age in order for her to get accepted. Instead of trying to educate her readers she challenges the dominant conceptions of college and intelligence. Hurston tells a story about a man who sends his daughter off to college for seven years, and when she comes back home he tells her to write a letter for him, since she knows how to write now. The story is about a mule that makes a clucking sound. When he asked his daughter if she wrote it down she told him that she does not know how to spell the clucking sound. The man then goes on to ridicule her for...


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...l as extremely intelligent. A college degree signifies that you are educated in what you have studied but that does not in turn mean that you are intelligent. It may mean you just worked hard and put in a lot of time. Intelligence can also come from experience as all the three examples above have proven. I believe our system puts too much emphasis on what college you graduated from, what your grades were, and what you graduated with, instead of putting an emphasis on experience and knowledge obtained through experience.





Works Cited

Hurston, Zora Neale. Mules and Men. United States: Perennial Library, 1990. Print.

Good Will Hunting. Dir. Gus Van Sant. Perf Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon. Be Gentlemen Limited Parnership, 1998. DVD.

Hughes, Langston. “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lanter. Print.

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