What’s An Education Worth?

“Well, you can’t think of it like that.”

Apparently, you’re not allowed to calculate the return on investment when it comes to funding your education. In deciding whether or not to borrow thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars, you’re not supposed to question a program’s ability to deliver—financially, that is.

No matter how hard you try to convince yourself that workshopping is valuable, you can’t seem to justify the unspeakable loan that landed you here. You shudder when people ask what grad program you’re in, not because you don’t love it, but because it’s arguably pointless. Why are you paying to write when you can write at home? What exactly are you paying for? Many people believe that it’s impossible to put a price tag on educational attainment. Meanwhile, universities across the nation have managed to come up with a number that inflates each year.

According to Martin Luther King, Jr., the function of education is “to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” But when one is too intimidated by the system to act upon their thoughts, can their thoughts truly be considered critical? You know that your university and the Federal Government are exploiting young American minds is not helping anything other than your stress and anxiety levels. And consciously allowing yourself to be appeased by “free” receptions and exclusive master classes is depleting your sense of sanity.

You often wonder if professors feel the pressure to over-deliver. Do they feel any sense of responsibility to convince you that your financial suicide was worth it? They tend to be extremely relaxed, usually much less anxious than you are, and that bothers you.

You find the concept of “higher” education deeply problematic. Will your master’s degree make you a better writer than Maya Angelou, who never earned a B.A.? Will people consider you more knowledgeable than your widowed grandmother, who raised five children by herself on a high school diploma?

Every time you step into WPH, you’re reminded of the outstanding balance on your ePay account. Each glance makes you think of homelessness and loan default and yet you’re still here. As much as you complain about your program’s practicality issues, you’re in class now, reading this aloud.

A part of you longs to drop out, but something keeps telling you that it’s worth it. You’re usually at peace with this decision until you exercise your critical thinking skills and realize that it makes absolutely no sense. In the event that you do sell your thesis project, you’ll look back on this and laugh uncontrollably. But in the more reasonable event that you graduate and have to work as a freelance writer for the rest of your life, you fear you’ll never be able to forgive yourself.

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