The value of a college education—has it increased or decreased with the rising cost of tuition?
While this decade has seen a nearly ten percent increase in enrollment, it has also seen an increase in tuition. Inflation has increased, the need to hire the best instructional talent and reduce turnover has become paramount, and state funding and endowments have declined, all of which contribute to the increased cost of tuition. Yet the value of a college education is as strong as ever. College graduates have an advantage in many aspects of their lives: Actual employment; earning ability; higher job satisfaction; ability to provide a role model of learning for their children; and increased overall health and well-being.
The war on talent is becoming more competitive, and with it the demand for a college education. The increased need for jobs that require higher education and better communication and problem solving skills results in the need for increased talent. With companies downsizing and restructuring, the typical job applicant isn’t only up against recent fellow graduates, he or she is competing against professionals with years of practical and real life experience in the industry, thus raising the bar yet again—a challenge in which just having a high school education can’t compete.
A college experience is greater than the value it brings from a degree standpoint, however. A college student learns life lessons in communication, character building, teamwork, compromise, accountability, friendship, and the ability to accomplish tasks with multiple diversions going on around her. A quality college experience is a combination of an educational and character building opportunity that better prepares the individual to be successful wherever her path leads.
I recently came across a Chinese proverb, “Be Careful” that I’ve paraphrased below:
• Watch your thoughts, for they become your words
• Watch your words, for they become your actions
• Watch your actions, for they become your habits
• Watch your habits, for they build your character
• Watch your character, for it decides your destiny.
The war on talent is fighting for the foundation built on character, ethics, and integrity. It must be enhanced with the ability to work in a team environment, write and speak well, demonstrate creative and innovative skills, and be able to solve complex problems—education matters.