Friday, June 3, 2011

"Why did we have to buy this book?" -- Thoughts on the Value of College

If you've been paying attention to any 24 hour news channel, I'm sure you've seen segments questioning the value of a college education. Given the current hostile economic environment recent grads find themselves entering, it is a discussion worth having. After a few weeks of watching critics lob verbal bombs at an institution I've invested the last two years of my life in, I decided to share an article on Facebook. The responding debate involved people who recently graduated but couldn't find a job, people who graduated years ago and treasured their educational experiences, and folks like myself who were beginning to feel their hearts fill with dread at the thought of their degree not being 'good enough'.

If you have found yourself anxious about the future prospects of your hard-earned college diploma, read this article from the New Yorker. Louis Menand, the author of the piece, offers a few answers to a question he received from a student when he taught at a public institution. From there, he takes his readers on a journey to understand the historical development of the role higher education has played in America.

Personally, I found it helped to calm down my worries. It reminded me of why I've spent and will come to spend all those long hours in my school's library. It reminded me of why I drag myself to class when all I want to do remain in my bed and sleep. As Menand noted, there is more at stake for students like myself -- this is my chance to get a financial, social, and personal bite of the apple afforded to those with much more fortunate backgrounds than myself.

Lastly, in case you're wondering, the question that served as the striking force for this article was "Why did we have to buy this book?". I have half a mind to ask it to my professors once school is back in session.

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