elllo English Listening Lesson Library Online
Views #1394 | Intermediate B2

Is College Worth It?

Marianne and Todd talk about how college has changed and discuss if college is still a wise choice for young people.

Todd: So Marianne, we're talking about education. And things are changing. Society is changing as it always is. But these days, you can pretty much learn anything on your own. And there is a new debate going around that colleges no longer serve the purpose they used to. That basically, you can just learn what you want to learn without going to college. What do you think about that?

Marianne: Yes, that's a very good question. I really love this possibility of having access to knowledge just by yourself without having to attend a college for example. It's a great chance for everyone to have access to this knowledge. So I can only think it's a good thing.

But I don't know why. I'm kind of skeptical because I think at some point, you have to have a time where you can exchange with a teacher or at least with other people who have the same knowledge as you. Because if you never, if you don't have this time and space where you can debate about what you learned, then there is no increase of the level of thinking. Like because you need to debate about things to learn more or maybe to correct things.

It's like the Wikipedia, right. Like it's a contributive dictionary or – encyclopedia. But everybody is writing in this page. And sometimes you see some updates but you don't know why, for example, someone made the change because you don't have the space where you can debate about is this wrong or correct about like the information that was uploaded was wrong or correct. And if you just see the correction but you couldn't debate about this, then you cannot understand.

So I think for me, having a time and a space where you can debate is very important. And this is a place and the time that college can offer, for example, debate between teachers or debate between students about some topics.

Todd: Wow! Those are really good points. Yeah, I agree. You know, I've taught at university for a while. And I do see some of the points of being a self-learner and just basically getting what you want – getting the information you want online.

But the problem is, when you go to university, you have that void or the vacuum really. And so, you're going to fill that with all these different types of information. And you might see things that you aren't – that you didn't even know that you liked. And also, there's that social element that's really strong in college. I don't think you're going to find that anywhere else where you, you know, make friends, you make relationships that last your whole life.

So I'm still a big believer of college but I can see that maybe we need to change the model to make them little bit better.

Marianne: Uh-hmm.

Todd: Which brings us to another question: how do you think we can change college to make better? Like what are some changes we can make to college?

Marianne: Wow.

Todd: Like I have one idea. One idea I have is that we're starting to see it a little bit with MOOCs, but there's no reason that you can't take a class at any other university via video from your university. So example, if you go to UCLA, you can take art classes from Harvard or somewhere else. I think that would be really good if you can start doing that. So you're not only limited to the professors on your campus.

Marianne: Wow. Yes, that's a great idea. Yes.

Todd: Anything that you, looking back, you wish you could have done differently at university?

Marianne: Well the big issue about university especially in the US is that it costs a lot of money. And so, if we could find ways to – because for example, you are talking about having access to a lot of content information for free actually – I mean, for free. Like you just have to pay your Internet connection and suddenly, you have access to a lot of knowledge.

But when you go to college, it costs a lot of money. So this is a big issue actually. So if you could find a way to, financially speaking, like if we can find a way to make university more accessible to a wider audience, it could be nice. But I know it's difficult because we have to pay teachers. We have to pay all the infrastructures about university, so it costs a lot of money.

So I don't have the solution right now but I think working on this like free education or cheaper education – I mean, cheaper in a way talking about the entrance fee, not losing the quality of education. Yeah. If we can work on this point.

Todd: Yeah. I totally agree.

Answer these questions about the interview.
Audio Lessons about Phrases and Vocabulary

serve the purpose


Colleges no longer serve the purpose that they used to.

When something serves a purposes, it does what it was intended to do.

  1. A helmet cannot serve its purpose if you do not wear it.
  2. We rarely use fire extinguishers, but they serve a purpose and must be available.



I'm kind of skeptical.

When you are skeptical, you have doubts about something.

  1. I hear raw fish can be healthy but I am skeptical.
  2. The city says new taxes will create jobs but I am skeptical.

level of thinking


There is no increase of the level of thinking.

Here, a level of thinking refers to thinking intelligently.

  1. The level of thinking is higher at college than high school.
  2. The book took me to a higher level of thinking.

social element


There's that social element that's really strong in college.

A social element refers to a situation where people interact and socialize.

  1. There is a small social element to role playing games.
  2. Many people go to the gym for the social element, not to get in shape.



We're starting to see it a little bit with MOOCs.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course, and it refers to free online classes offered by universities.

  1. I took a MOOC in art history from UCLA.
  2. I like MOOCs because you do not have to leave home.



We can make university more accessible to a wider audience.

When something is accessible, it is easy to enter or use.

  1. In the winter that road is not accessible because of the snow.
  2. State colleges are more accessible than private universities.

Vocabulary Quiz

serve • skeptical • level
social element • MOOC • accessible
  1. Going to class is better than taking a .
  2. Stop signs are annoying but they .
  3. The in the meeting was deep.
  4. There is a to team sports.
  5. That building is not to the public.
  6. I am of his actions. He seems fake.

Related Lessons

1393 Good Teacher / Bad Teacher
1393 Good Teacher / Bad Teacher
What makes a good teacher?
Video 1394
Is it OK to be texting in class?

Other Lessons

1395 Having Roommates
1395 Having Roommates
Living with other people
1392 SoMe Love
1392 SoMe Love
Balancing love and social media

1391 Love in France
1391 Love in France
Relationships and Parisians
Courses for Students and Teachers

One Minute English Videos

Views English Lessons

Mixer English Lessons

Learn Academic English with News Stories

About the Teacher / Creator

Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
Contact Me Here