The Cost and the Value of Education

Julia Lawrence’s recent article in Education News (“Americans Opinion of Higher Ed System at Record Lows”) suggests we have lost some traction with the public. Concerns over the cost of education have been a longstanding concern (rightfully so) but recently, more and more members of the community are wondering about the value of education. This is new and needs to be addressed by all of us in higher ed. My question (for my Crafton Hills friends/colleagues in particular) is as follows. Imagine a single mom is thinking about sending her child to Crafton. She is going to pay for everything (books, tuition, food, housing, etc.) but she is not certain if it will be worth it. What do you tell her? What will her son or daughter experience at Crafton that merits the cost?

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9 Responses to The Cost and the Value of Education

  1. Bruce Baron says:

    Here is what you tell them.
    1. Higher Education matters. Generally speaking, people with more education will earn more money than those without. Research shows that an individual with a community college degree can expect to earn $1.7 million over a lifetime. This is compared to $1.3 million to someone with a high school degree only and $973,000 for a high school dropout. In addition, by the year 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will call for higher education beyond high school; 18 percent of those are community college level jobs. When one looks at the education level for California adults ages 24-64, the results are alarming. 9.28 percent of the adults have less than a ninth grade education. 8.71 percent have some high school, but no diploma. 20.60 percent have a high school diploma. 22.51 percent have some college, but no degree. 7.92 percent have a two-year (Associate) degree. 20.01 percent have a four-year (Bachelor’s) degree and 10.97 percent hold a graduate or professional degree. These numbers do not jive with the demand for an educated workforce.

    Bruce Baron, Chancellor, San Bernardino Community College District

    Sources: Lumina Foundation: A Stronger Nation through Higher Education
    Georgetown University Public Policy Institute: Recovery: Job Growth and Educational Requirements Through 2020
    Georgetown University Public Policy Institute: The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, and Lifetime Earnings.

    • bryanreece says:

      I think the economic argument is a good one. It resonates with most and is indisputable. It speaks to the adage, “You think obtaining a degree is financially difficulty? Try living without a degree.” At the same time, I feel we (higher ed in general) need to do a better job of explaining the human qualities of education–the aspects of a college experience that nourish our souls and expand our humanity. Bryan

  2. Jessica Mc says:

    Greetings Bryan,
    I am pondering your question as in my area, the trajectory is unique in relation to other academic fields. This is a question that the Fine Arts are faced with routinely. There are loads of data.. Reports unique to our region, that support the position that the arts do have a practical application (The OTIS Report on the Creative Economy being one of my favs). I have made a handout filled with data that I provide to students who have these questions.. and those who need to defend their academic choices to their parents. That being said, not everyone should be an artist.. But I believe strongly that all can benefit (both practically and as members of a society) from the diverse experiences that are gained by taking art classes… especially for a generation who has been raised to simply pass tests.

    Which brings me to this…

    I wanted to pass on this article from the NYT that I find to be very fascinating and somewhat connected to your question.

    I could talk about this for days…

  3. Jennifer Floerke says:

    I would say something like this…
    Students often feel lost after high school. I know I did. They are adults and have completed their lifelong journey of completing K-12. But now what? They have been a student their entire life. They are institutionalized and now they are on their own. Even if they are living at home they are now independent in many ways. The stress associated with such a distinct life change can be overwhelming, even terrifying. Attending college can ease students into the next stage of their lives by helping them discover their identity as an adult. They have the opportunity to maintain and/or develop a social network, explore new ideas about the world they live in, and learn how to manage a schedule that had previously been managed for them. The college experience is about learning about oneself as much as it is about learning in the classroom.
    Why Crafton Hills College specifically? Crafton is an intimate campus where it is not uncommon for faculty, staff and administrators to get to know students personally. There are numerous clubs and activities to get involved in and there are many services available to help students succeed in their educational goals. So, apply for financial aid and have your son/daughter enroll at CHC. Encourage him/her to find that one instructor, that one class, that one friend that will help them connect with the campus. Encourage him/her to make friends, get involved, explore many interests, ask a lot of questions and work hard. An education is an investment in oneself. It is worth it.
    AND…he/she will make more money and have more job security with a degree.

  4. Justin Bundschuh says:

    One thing I’d love to be able to tell this single mom but I can’t: The college system is streamlined now. You can go and get the education you need and want quickly. The days of “experiencing” college life have been replaced with a dynamic expedient education.

    But again, I could not tell this to the single mother. Instead I’d encourage her to seek the education because, if done right, she will make a better future for her child. Then I would promptly offer to help her arrange child care.

    Hope someday we can trim the fat.

    Justin Bundschuh
    Student CHC

  5. Sean Junior says:

    I would tell her that it is worth it. my mom pays for everything except gas (i pay for that and now i’m paying for my books too). This fall semester my mom payed for the books and tuition. it is affordable and well worth it as a Crafton student myself. the education is well worth it and like Mr. Bundschuch said “if done right, she will make a better future for her child.”

  6. J. Hawkins says:

    Is attending CHC worth it?
    From the parent’s and the student’s perspectives, the value attached to attending college depends on what the student and her/his parent expect to get out of taking classes at CHC. Most of my students expect to develop skills and acquire knowledge that will enable them to “get a good job” either with their AA or AS degree or by going on to earn a BA or BS degree, and some a MA or MS degree. This has been true for the last twenty years. In the past many and now most students in my classes attend CHC while working at minimum wage jobs. They are adult students, responsible for their own expenses.
    So what specifically do they expect?
    Useful and up-to-date knowledge and skills: they expect to gain knowledge and skills related to their field of study, e.g., fire science, childcare, etc. They expect that what they are taught will be useful when they leave CHC and look for a job/career.
    General education coursework: they expect to complete general education coursework, transferable to a four-year program.
    Course availability: they expect to complete coursework in a timely manner, meaning that the courses they need to graduate should be available when they need to take them. They expect to complete work at CHC in four semesters.
    Job availability: they expect that after investing two to eight years or more in a field of study, that they will be adequately prepare for jobs that are available. They expect that there will be an easy and useful correlation between the coursework they have completed and requirements of the job/career they hope to move into after completing their studies.

    What don’t students expect?
    They don’t expect to have to buy textbooks that cost nearly as much or more than tuition expenses, especially when the textbook is not directly relevant to their field of study.
    They don’t expect tuition fees that go up and up and up.
    They don’t expect to hit the wall when assignments, papers, exams pile up. Most students do hit the wall at some point in their studies—and they need encouragement and guidance to learn how to navigate those times.
    Often students don’t know they need extreme time management skills: students new to college are not great at managing their time or even assessing how much time they will have to invest to succeed. If they are working 24-40 hours a week and taking fulltime coursework, they don’t count up the hours or plan their schedules well. So, if weekly, they work 24-40 hours, take full-time coursework 12 to 15 hours, and have homework of 24 to 30 hours, this adds up to between 60 and 85 hours a week—and all this is before they have time for anyone or anything else in their lives such as drive time, children’s needs (if they have children, which quite a few do,) meal preparation, shopping, home and car maintenance, friends, extended family responsibilities, and so on.
    Students rarely expect to need remedial studies: students are surprised and frustrated to learn that they are not adequately prepared for college work. They don’t expect to have to take remedial coursework, and they are not thrilled that that coursework will extend their time in community college by another year or two year.
    And they don’t expect community college to be a crucible. They don’t expect to have their thinking and lifestyles and values and habits challenged.
    Needing to accept these new expectations may be difficult, but it can be a good thing, though they may not realize it until after they have completed their college studies.
    Perhaps it’s not possible to have realistic expectations until after they have earned their degrees and found new jobs and begun the new set of tasks that arrive after college is completed. That may be when they can assess the value of their college experience.
    While we can encourage students and their parents, and while we enjoy our work teaching them, the bottom-line is that they must want to be here, really want to learn, really be open to new ways of seeing the world. The onus for success and the assessment of its value for them is truly found in their hands and in their hearts.

  7. Fermin Ramiez says:

    I use a visual comparison of a high school graduate vs. a college graduate. A high school graduate will earn 1.2 million dollars over their life time (retire at 65 start working at 18 = 47 years of work). In comparison someone with a 4yr. degree will earn 2.1 million dollars over their life time (retire at 65 start working at 22 = 43 years of work). Then I ask, “Which is better, more years of work for less money or less years of work for more money?” The numbers speak for themselves. In addition I always tell them Crafton will provide them a quality education that is part of obtaining a 4yr. degree.

    Short and simple yet it makes a huge impression on the value of an education

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