The Value/Cost of Education

While the title of this post could be misconstrued to be another entry in the online Occupy Movement assortment of online communications, I actually just wanted to chat about the value of education as I have seen it.

True, tuition is on the rise. And true, there are probably problems in the tenure/adjunct/what-the-hell-am-I-really-paying-for-with-my-tuition issues. But I’m going to side-step these for the time being, and focus just on some of the benefits as I see them.

The world is a soul-crushingly corporate place, filled with bottom lines, ROIs, market-feasibility studies, and cubicles for our worker bees. There is this mentality of producing to the highest bidder, finding market demand, etc. It’s practical and centered wholly on the money. It’s what makes the world go ’round.

In college, though (and I’m speaking of the classroom, not the abstract noun “college”), we have students thinking, critically uncovering bias, learning concepts that anchor existing, future, and previous social, psychological, scientific, economic, and literary ideas. They use analysis, creativity, and research to create a more real map of the world. They find themselves, and they find their paths.

I was in a meeting the day before yesterday with the acquisitions group of the press affiliated with the college (Ooligan Press, from PSU). We were talking about a title that they wanted to acquire, but were hesitant because it is a genre that is sometimes difficult to sell. Concerns were raised, and we talked about how different it is from a lot of the other titles that we have done, but there were decidedly good parts, too: the editors were going to get to work on a developmental edit, slanted for literary fiction, the marketing department was going to have to go out and start to define the audience that we haven’t gone after yet, and the design team would get to work on fiction again, utilizing thematic concepts from the book into their cover and interior designs. But Sales wouldn’t be happy.

And then I had to say something about how sometimes the good thing about college is that value isn’t necessarily only monetary. Sometimes we need a safe-haven from the single-minded nature of capitalism. Sometimes we need a safe space to screw up without losing our jobs. Sometimes we need a guide, helping us to see things in a new light. Sometimes.

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