Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Money, Value and Pink Floyd

So they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a raise
It's no surprise that they're giving none away
Pink Floyd, Money


Now that you’ve started to get acceptances from your schools, the reality of how you’ll afford to go to them has surely set in.  If you read any major newspaper or watch TV news, you’ve no doubt heard that money is truly the “root of all evil” in higher education.  Stories about high tuition, poor graduation rates, crushing student debt, and unemployed college graduates are common, and enough to make anyone nervous about the future.  There are certainly examples of schools and programs that are not successful in graduating students with marketable skills, but the truth of the matter is that the value of a college degree – and a liberal arts education – has never been more important.

What these stories focus on is how much a college education costs, as if it were a consumer good like buying a car.  What they often fail to include is the value of the investment.  If you have been looking at going to college in a narrow, career focused way, as a means to getting your first job, than perhaps you should question the cost of the education.  But going to college has never really been about only your first job.  Going to college is about developing the skills, experiences, perspectives, and opportunities that prepare you for the rest of your life, which will include your first job.  At the University of San Diego, we don’t view the four years you’ll spend with us as a vocational path toward a job.  During your time here we expect to help you grow academically, to view the world and your place in it differently, and to help prepare you to be an educated, compassionate, and more engaged citizen of the world.  The skills and experiences you gain here, as well as the connections you make with faculty and students, will help you find your first job, but more importantly, will help shape the trajectory of the rest of your life. 

Now, as a parent who also pays tuition, I don’t mean to minimalize how much college costs, including USD.  It is a big investment.  But to consider the cost without considering the value of the education over a lifetime misses the point.  As you weigh your options over the next few weeks, we’d like to spend some time talking about the value of this educational experience.  To do that, we have asked some of our faculty to talk about what they believe is the real value of going to college, of exploring the liberal arts, and of using these four years as a time of growth and development.  Their stories will appear on our website over the next several weeks, and we hope you’ll read them and reflect upon what you hope to get out of the next four years.

Money isn’t really the root of all evil in higher education, unless it’s the only thing we pay attention to. Fortunately, at USD, the value of our education extends long after the first job. Enjoy the stories and good luck with your decisions.

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