Knowledge Bound: The RSC Blog
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The ancient Greeks had a great view of education – it was worth the trouble.
Socrates said, “All learning is accompanied by pain.” His contemporary, Sophocles said, “Success is the reward of toil.”
Two generations later, Aristotle added, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”
In other words, getting a good education is not supposed to be easy. It wasn’t easy then, and it’s not easy now. Today’s student faces different challenges, of course: rapidly rising tuition, high-interest student loans and bleak job prospects. Given all that, would the ancient Greeks still think education is worth it?
Considering the Cost of College
The question is whether the benefits of a college education – higher salaries, career specialization, improved self-understanding, better healthcare, and the rest – outweigh the debt you will likely accrue. There are two ways to approach this:
While going to college simply to get an education is an admirable goal, these days students need to go in with a career plan, one developed through personality tests, self-analysis, and career research.
In 2011, the average college graduate had $27,000 in student loan debt. Given a steady increase, today’s high-school freshman can expect that to be $49,000. Students need to find ways to maximize their financial aid and receive all the grant money and other need-based aid to which they are entitled. Combining need-based and merit-based aid is the best way to limit or eliminate student loan debt.
The Most Important Reason to Go to College
Perhaps the single most important reason to go to college is because you think it’s worth it. Don’t go because your friends are going, or you feel pressured to do it. Deep down, how do you feel? If you’ve taken personality tests and your career interests determine college is the best course for you, then go. Work on finding the right college that can help you academically, professionally and financially. That combination will help you get the best financial aid (RSC’s Top Financial Aid Colleges Handbook can help here, too) and a job after college that lets you pay off any debt you acquire.
84% of college graduates say it was worth it. Those who say college isn’t worthwhile often didn’t’ graduate. If you’re determined to make your college dreams a reality, than you can be among that vast majority who say college is definitely worth it.
Education may not be free, and higher education may be difficult, but by having the right college prep plan, you might just find you agree with another Greek philosopher, Epictetus, who said, “Only the educated are free.”
That’s the promise that has made education worth it for more than 2,000 years.
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