What is the Real Value of a College Education?

A college education costs more than ten thousand dollars per year – in fact, unless a student is attending a public school in-state, it usually costs tens of thousands of dollars. The average college student graduates with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. The considerable price tag of a college education, along with the harsh realities of the current job market, makes many parents and students approach college with a cost-benefit mindset. In order to justify the expense, the thinking goes, a degree should be a passport to a high-paying job.

But is it really all about the money? In a recent Washington Post editorial, St. John’s College president Christopher B. Nelson argues that the value of a college education has nothing to do with a graduate’s starting salary and everything to do with a graduate’s growth as a human being. The function of an education is not to impart information, he says, but to impart knowledge – to give students a broader and more nuanced perspective on the world. And while undergraduates may pick up specific skill sets they will need for future careers, it is more important that they learn how to think critically, and indeed, learn how to learn.

You can read the full editorial here.

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