Wednesday, November 21, 2012
WHAT PRICE EDUCATION?
There's a lot of work involved in getting an education. Let me re-phrase that: There are acres and acres and unbelievable continents of work involved in getting a university degree. Anyone who has climbed that hill (I think this is becoming a case of mixed metaphors, but you get the idea) knows how many hours are involved. Some of these hours are stimulating and enlightening, others are drudgery and boredom.
Then there's the cost. It varies considerably depending upon your jurisdiction, your membership in a particular group and whether you choose community college or an exclusive 'ivy league' establishment. Fifty thousand dollars a year is not unusual and you'd be hard pressed to find a local college that was less than $3,000 a year. This would be just for tuition. As any student knows, the books and supplies and related fees can easily equal half of the tuition. Then there's transportation. The foregoing assumes you live at home rent-free. If you have to stump for room and board . . . well you get the idea. It is exceedingly expensive to obtain a post-secondary education.
How to pay for it? About half of students take out student loans. This guarantees a long period of time making payments equivalent to a mortgage just at a time in your life when you might want to get a real mortgage, along with a life. A large percentage of students have part-time jobs while in school. Some have parents or spouses who can assist. The latter are the lucky ones.
But let's assume that you overcame these obstacles, both financial and intellectual, and have that hard-earned degree in your hand. Surely, employers would seek you out and offer you well-paid and interesting employment utilizing the skills and knowledge you have obtained. It doesn't seem too much to ask.
It is a bitter pill to swallow and a hard truth to accept that this does not occur for many university graduates. For some, the undergraduate degree becomes a jumping off place. More education, usually in a specific field with particular skills like nursing, education, public health or law enforcement. may lead to decent employment that enables the graduate's life to move forward. But for others what awaits is low wage employment that does not use their new knowledge and wisdom. Some go as far as to say that the main beneficiaries of post-secondary education are the people and institutions that provide it.
In the long run the graduates are better off, I believe, both financially and empirically, but being educated, unemployed, broke and in debt and age twenty-five is a tough place to be.