The education that we are now receiving is a "signal": education helps us send a message that we are competent.
Generally economists point out that education has two effects on us:
(1) Human Capital (G. Becker)
Education improves our ability and competence.
Expenditures on education, training, medical care, and so on as investments in human capital. Many studies have shown that high school and college education in the United States greatly raise a person's income, according to Becker.
(2)Signaling (M. Spence)
Education shows our ability and competence, but doesn't necessarily improve our skill. Some economists say that education has a "sheepskin effect" on us. A sheepskin stands for a diploma that we can get when we graduate from school.
Certainly, graduates from Harvard looks smarter than those from public high school. "Looking smart or competent" is quite important when we look for a job or have a job interview.
The question at hand is: is the effect of education on us always positive?
I don't think so because we have to lose much precious time during our study at school. If we used our time at school to do a job, we could make money. However, if we used our time to study at school, we couldn't make money but could learn what we want to(or have to) study.
At this point, the question is which is better for you, to study at school or to have a job.
In developing countries, many young people go to work and many of them want to study at school to improve their skill and their living standard in the future.
In contrast, in developed countries, most of young generation go to school and many of them may dislike studying and suffer from heavy stresses and strains of exams.
In Japan around half of the high school graduates go to university and study for 4 years and get a bachelor degree. However, many of undergraduate students start to look for a job in their third grade and they don't (or can't) have time to study at university.
Some professors say that it's ridiculous for their students to look for a job because they should study at university for 4 years but in fact they study only for 3 years. 1 year is the term for looking for a job.
For them, 4-year undergraduate study seems to be not good and too long to study. It should be a negative effect on them to study for 4 years. For them school might not help. They think that they should have a time to look for a job and look at a real business life and society.
Schools don't always help us. However, if you really want your school to help you with your future career, you might have to make use of what you have learned at school and to try to seize on something important for you in your everyday life. I always say to myself.
If you don't think that your class at school is helpful, you should skip it and take another class to improve your ability. Whether schools help us or not might depend on how we use our time.
Above 2 theories don't tell about it, but at any rate whether our school help us or not should be up to us. We cannot get something important for our life if we don't try to seize on a chance of good study at school.
(1) Akerlof, G.(1970), "The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and Market Mechanism", Q.J.E.
(3) Becker, G.(1993), "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education" The University of Chicago Press
*The above picture is from UW-Milwaukee.