Higher Cost Education

Maybe we should begin inserting “cost” in between “higher” and “education” as a continual reminder of the increasing challenge paying for college poses.

On Lutheran university campuses there’s frequent talk of vocation which Frederick Buechner described this way, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” During a “vocation” conversation last week, I listened to a colleague talk earnestly about the role discernment plays in determining one’s vocation. To “discern” something is to develop spiritual direction and understanding.

The discernment reference was shortly after another colleague shared an anecdote about a recent grad who’d returned to say he was still trying to find a job that would enable him to pay his bills. And mostly likely, tens of thousands of dollars of student debt.

Prior to that a colleague said we talk too narrowly about diversity, limiting it mostly to race, meaning important differences between economic classes are slighted. Connecting the various dots, it dawned on me that our repeated talk of vocation and discernment is a byproduct of our privilege. Discernment implies multiple possibilities in life, when an increasing percentage of college grads, like my colleague’s former student, would be content with one job that pays a livable wage.

In the 20th century, a college degree created far more opportunities than it does in the 21st. I’m afraid some of my higher ed friends and I have lost touch with people’s day-to-day realities. Naively, we talk of great joy, great need, spiritual direction, and understanding; when what many of them want is enough money to make it to graduation and the confidence they’ll find decent enough work to meet their basic needs.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Higher Cost Education

  1. Discernment in relation to vocation is so essential. I think we’d agree that such discernment would be far more effective before piling on tons of student debt. Perhaps many would find other options to be more helpful and more satisfying.

  2. Excellent post.

    I’ve never even thought of this issue in the way you’ve just explained it (and I’m assuming many others are in the same position). This is an idea to keep in my back pocket as I enter into a career of education. I’ll be sharing this with a few of my peers, no doubt.

    I’m a new reader (just stumbled across your blog the other day while searching up school mission statements) but I have thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. Thank you for your thoughts!

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