By Tina Snieder
Recently, PBS network hosted a televised debate to discuss whether or not higher education is worth its ever increasing price. While those for higher education initially argued their case by pointing out benefits from education, such as the fueling of upward mobility and the fact that college “helps develop a sense of global awareness,” the discussion quickly turned economical.
The default argument for college became that higher education is a gateway to securing a better paid job. Those opposed to higher education conceded that “college is worth the price as long as you pick a degree that pays well and is in demand.” It was noted that for students who do not yet know what they are planning to do or study, college is an expensive place to explore.
The admissions office at Providence Christian college deals with this every time they recruit students. Geoff Shaw, Admissions Counselor at Providence and Church Relations Coordinator, confirmed that the number one concern of students is the cost of college. Students are aware and worried of how their debt will affect them. Both students and parents want to know the value of the education that they are paying for.
“When I discuss expenses with parents and students I lay out the facts of how much money they are going to have to borrow over the course of four years. Average is about 27,000 dollars. What is 27,000? It’s a Honda. So what’s the value? You either get the experience of your life that will last you your whole life, or a Honda. That’s the value of it,” said Shaw.
The cost of college has increased drastically since the recession of 2008, noted Doctor Ryan McIlhenny, Professor of History and Humanities.
“Student loans were wrapped up in the manipulative financial schemes that were making a few people very wealthy. When the collapse came, a lot of students left college to take jobs, which also affected the increase in tuition prices,” said Dr. McIlhenny.
During the PBS debate, tweets from the viewers were broadcasted. One Eric Moffa asked,
“Why is the “worth” of college judged only in economic terms and career success? How about finding value in knowledge?”
This is the value Providence is trying to sell. The job after the degree is an important outcome, but equally important, is the education itself. “You become a thoughtful person who cares about a variety of disciplines.
There is joy in the pursuit of knowledge, it’s freeing,” said Shaw. Still, Providence’s admissions department is aware of economic concerns. Recently the admissions team created an “outcomes” webpage for Providence’s website, providing different statistics and percentages in concern to the professions and fields alumni are pursuing.
For current students, the close relation between future outcomes and current education means they must continually demand to be challenged in and outside of the classroom.