The real value of a Butler education

Over the summer, my father asked me to consider the value of my education. I responded quickly with a simple answer—tuition and how it affected my finances.

I constantly repeated how important it was for me to attend school, but it was not until afterwards that I actually comprehended what he was asking me to do. I just assumed that by value, he meant cost.

This is the problem with many students today. In a time of rising tuition and student debt, we often lose sight of why higher education is actually important to our future. We forget that the value of college goes beyond the price-tag.

Over the past few months, there have constantly been news reports of experts who feel education is losing its value in society.

In fact, it is the growing amount of student debt that is causing experts and families alike to question the actual worth of a college degree.

“Americans are carrying close to $830 billion in student loan debt,” according to an article from CBS News. That is a number I can hardly comprehend.

“Factor in a record unemployment rate of nearly five percent among those with a college degree and it’s no surprise that many experts and families are starting to wonder— is going to college worth it?” the article asks.

This topic should not to be taken lightly.

It is too often that students incur so much debt from college that they spend their whole lives trying to pay it off.

This is why it is important to choose a school that fits your own needs: a school that provides quality at a price you can
afford.

Janet Bodnar,  the deputy editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in a Washington Post article earlier this month, said that picking a school is one of the main strategies to avoid debt.

“You’re looking for colleges that deliver good value—a high-quality education at an affordable price,” she said.

Bodnar said that this could mean a state institution or a more expensive private school with scholarship opportunities.

Though these facts seem downright gloomy, there is no way my college degree will not be worth it. I will not let that happen.

My optimistic attitude forces me to believe that my Butler education is of high value or I would not have come here in the first place. But what is my education worth to me? It is being able to excel in classes with a personal atmosphere.

It is a journalism department that is invested in my education.

It is being provided with opportunities for success I might not have at a larger school.

It is the idea of multiple internships and high career placement rates.

It is knowledge I will acquire over my four years in Indianapolis, both inside of the classroom and out.

In his last “President’s Perspective” e-mail, Butler University President Bobby Fong discussed the value of a Butler education.

He said the value of a Butler education is enhanced by, “1) imparting an intellectual superstructure for how knowledge is established from field to field, 2) understanding that meaning goes beyond the intellectual to the emotional and relational and 3) appreciating that a fully lived human life means being an agent of change in the world.”

Butler means more to a student than preparation for a career; it is preparation for life.

But the possibilities and benefits of a college education do not stop there, causing confusion in this fiery college debate.

The College Board released a study this month, “Education Pays 2010: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society,” stating that the value of education could be growing.

The report found that the median earnings of full-time workers with bachelor’s degrees were $55,700 in 2008, which is $21,900 more than workers who only finished high school.

The numbers seem to make the value more clear—college educated people make more money.

As I start to think about the purpose of my education and its worth, my father’s signature phrase comes to mind—learn something.

Learn anything, learn everything: that is what we are here to do. Learning is what makes my Butler education valuable to me.

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