Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Be educated

Dear Angry Graduate,

Your rant about the cost of higher education might be the best indicator of why you are finding it so difficult to get a job. Your lack of understanding of the role of education, the assumption that education guarantees you a job, and the idea that education somehow causes bubble economics shows that you are sadly mistaken. You managed to get a degree but failed to become an educated person.

Education is a dialogue between teacher and students, student and student, academy and the world. We focus on qualitative measures of meaning, purpose, relationship, art, thought, and belief. We value person and life as who we are, not what we do. Our goal is to shape the way we think, looking beyond the superficial gains of power and influence to see consequences and effects on the meaning of being human. Education acts as a check and balance system to political and corporate greed and corruption. Education strives for greater equality as it measures success by ideas and expression rather than method and production. It fosters intelligent leadership through critical thinking. It demands self-reflection as a motivation to evaluate and change, and offers a spectrum of knowledge that becomes a laser of invention and creativity.

It is an expensive proposition. You want to know where your measly $16,000 a semester went? It went to the library to help pay the $500,000--$1 million a year bill for online data services that allow you to stay in your room and explore the world. It went to the $2 million electric bill and the $3 million water bill. It paid for security, secretaries, equipment, maintenance, improvements, food services, internet access, books, furniture, gym equipment, student services, and cleaning services. There is still the small issue of salaries, insurance, seminars, speakers, labs, student workers, support services, and research.

I, like many others who work here, receive marginal salaries. I work three jobs to pay my bills. I live a simple lifestyle, and I have little money in reserve. But I believe that the good of society and the potential of my students are worth the investment and the gift of my life. Education is not free and it is not easy. Contrary to the opinions of some students, college is not about how much one can drink, and party, and play games because no one is there to tell me otherwise. Education is about responsibility, picking courses and professors that help you, and engaging the world in a dialogue about how we can achieve the highest expressions of what it means to be human. If you failed to realize that and if you failed to take advantage of what was right in front of you, that is not the fault or failing of higher education. If you wanted an education that promised a job, you should have gone to trade school.

So, grow up. Realize how fortunate you are, how much you have learned, and if you are as smart as you think you are, prove it. Engage the world and make a difference. If nothing else, help the next generation learn so that we can still offer the hope of a better world.

A Dedicated Professor

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