Valuing that education

The other day I came across an article from NPR. The article discussed the decision many people have to make when considering a college education. Cost of course is a huge factor, because let’s face it, a college education is anything but cheap. The economic costs and benefits of that education of obvious. Yes getting that education may carry a large price tag, but one’s earning potential after college are generally higher then those without degrees.

The article then goes on to mention that there are more benefits to obtaining that degree that many do not consider.  On all those points mentioned in the article, I agree. My education thus far has been enlightening in ways I would never have considered. It has, in just the year I’ve been attending, taught me that critical thinking is actually quite healthy to learning. I learned that lesson in my first semester when I took Sociology, Philosophy and World Religion all in the same semester. Using all three principles helped me to gain a unique perspective of life, humanity, ethics and faith, and a greater respect for all of that. I doubt I would have ever gained that perspective without those classes.

I likely would have never discovered the richness of history when viewed through the lens of art. Even though that class drove me nearly crazy with all the memorization, I discovered that I like Baroque and Impressionist art, and that the periods in painting and sculpture often reflected social, religious and political statuses or thought. I also learned that those same periods also filtered into other art forms such as literature and music. For some reason I’d never made that connection. Thanks to that Art History class, I do now.

I likely would have never written the works of Pulitzer prize winning poet Stephen Dunn, or the works of Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson. I would have never met the delightful Cary Holladay or read her short stories. Her enthusiasm for my and other student’s desire to become serious writers encouraged me so much. One day I hope to thank her for that. I would have never read the beautiful poems of Allison Joseph, who’s book My Father’s Kites, I’ve already mentioned on this blog. What a treat it was to hear her read excerpts from that book. If I had not decided to make the decision to return to college, none of this would have happened.

I’ve learned more about myself, about what I hope to do when I graduate in a couple of years, and am enjoying every single moment of it. Maybe it is because I am “slightly” over 19 that I am viewing my education much differently then I did the first time I attempted this. This time I accept this chance to finally get that degree as a gift, something to be cherished and built upon, not to be squandered but to be the jumping off place to what may happen next in life.

Is that college education worth the stress, the piles of homework, the lack of sleep, the bad food because I don’t have time to cook, and the debt from the student loans that are helping to supplement the cost of tuition?  I believe with every fiber of my being that it is worth every moment.




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