The Forgotten Value of an Education

To say that a college education/ degree is a waste of money if a financial profit is not made in return totally discounts the value of knowledge.  Due to the rising cost of college and the poor job market out there, many of the traditional degrees may not financially return the money you put into it.  But the advice to automatically skip secondary school, to me, would be a misstep.  I went to four years of college, earned 3 bachelors degrees, and have yet to really put them to “proper use.”  But I have never once regretted the choice to attend.

My life’s aspirations have always included being a stay at home mom, and that’s exactly what I have grown up to be.  So, no, I have not quite made a financial return on my investment of thousands of dollars and four years of hard work, but to me, a return that is much more valuable.  The priceless knowledge and experience that I had gained during that time.  I learned how to critically think for myself.  I “found myself” as far as leaning towards liberal feminist values.  I earned a Sociology degree, which has taken a big part in shaping my outlook on life and opinions on key political issues like healthcare and education and inequalities in the world.  The discussions that I’ve had over a round table earning my Women’s Studies degree have made me feel proud to define as feminist as opposed to being scared of the title.  The History degree I hold gave way to my interest in the past, the books I love to devour and my ability to write and do research and further educate myself.  I learned about living with people and working with others, about managing time and selecting what’s important in life.  I learned to live in a foreign (to me) city essentially on my own.

I know that it’s not realistic and even frivolous to think that paying thousands and many times hundreds of thousands of dollars for “nothing tangible” isn’t very economical or realistic and maybe even silly in some people’s eyes.  And I understand that is a privilege that is just not given to many.  But to me, the value of my knowledge and education is worth every penny that I am still paying monthly and realistically may never recoup.

For those of you that have paid or are still paying and may never even stop paying for your education; what value to you place on your knowledge (careers aside)?

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5 responses to “The Forgotten Value of an Education

  1. I will say that college was the best 5 years of my life. 🙂 I was a faculty brat and it only cost me about $600 a semester to go, plus the scholarship I had that left me money left over. I did triple major in biochemistry, chemistry and biology, but this was basically a springboard into medical school. It was all the liberal arts classes that I actually feel benefitted me the most.

  2. I admire your outlook and wish I could feel the same, but it’s often very hard for me. 5 years after graduating, I am finally in a real career I love, albeit nothing what I imagined for myself during school. While I wouldn’t have this job without the degree(s) serving as my proof of capability, I can’t honestly say I gained much knowledge in the classroom that I couldn’t have gained on my own if I had sought it out through libraries, the Internet, or conversation. The college experience definitely shaped me, though, and was everything I needed to become the person I am today. I made some lifelong friendships and met my fiance in college. While I wouldn’t trade those for anything in the world, signing away a quarter of my monthly income every 6th of the month is hard to swallow. I debate this with myself a lot, and I still don’t have an honest answer. I went to college because my high school (and honestly, my family, too) constantly drilled the “after high school, you go to college” mindset. Kids who went into the workforce after high school instead of college were viewed as tragedies, and not going to college just wasn’t an option…I mean, of course everything is an option, but you didn’t want to be “that” student. I’m not sure if it’s still that way where I grew up or not. Moral of the story: I wouldn’t change where I am now for anything in the world, but if I had known what I know now when I was 18, I would have made very different decisions regarding my college education.

  3. You make a super point here. It’s the value of knowledge that matters. I’m not using my dual degrees either, but I can converse with the best of them and I consider myself acutely aware of the world around me. I wouldn’t be able to say that without my degree.

  4. I too have a degree which has never benefited me in a career, I did enjoy the experience aside from a few required classes which were of no use or interest to me. I have no problem with someone attending college because they want to and can afford to, but we need to stop and remember a college is a business out to make money, not to help you with your career. Yet that is not how it is sold to the youth embarking on a decision of what to do after high school. I also believe that we are always learning and don’t need to pay for a college education to learn. I live in a college town and watch the financial problems the graduating students have. They believed they would have a job somewhere in their chosen field and are struggling to pay back loans taking on jobs they never needed a degree for. In this uncertain economy do we really want all our younger adults to be straddled with debt before they even have a chance to start living as an adult?

  5. Pingback: Where Did The Time Go, And More Importantly, The Two Space Rule? | From Playgrounds To Politics

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