It costs $230,000 to earn a B.A. from Harvard University. This assumes that prices will not go up over the next four years. But they always do.
The president of Harvard knows that the job market is rotten for college graduates. In Atlanta, you have to have a B.A. to get a clerk’s filing job.
So, she assures us that the value of the degree is way more than money. Yes, it costs a boatload of money to go to Harvard. Yes, the job market stinks. But consider the intangibles, he says. And he said it in the New York Times, so it must be true.
The focus in federal policy making and rhetoric on earnings data as the indicator of the value of higher education will further the growing perception that a college degree should be simply a ticket to a first job, rather than a passport to a lifetime of citizenship, opportunity, growth and change.
He neglected to mention that a bright student can earn a B.A. from an accredited university for $15,000, total. The degree gives a student ” a passport to a lifetime of citizenship, opportunity, growth and change.” The passport just costs a lot less than Harvard’s passport.
Maybe a student can go on welfare, or what amounts to the same thing, get a low-paying job with the government.
When I speak with students today, I encourage them to pursue those interests that enable them to make their particular contribution to the world. A graduate working to begin a start-up or one pursuing a career in the creative arts would likely not score high on the proposed federal scale of educational worth. Nor would the nearly 20 percent of our graduates who each year apply to Teach for America and numerous other teacher-residency programs.
That’s what parents want to hear! “We are so thrilled that we shelled out $230,000 after taxes for this kind of opportunity for our child.”
Making college more affordable for students and families is a fundamental goal that we in higher education are dedicated to support. When we decide what to measure, we signal what counts. Equating the value of education with the size of a first paycheck badly distorts broader principles and commitments essential to our society and our future.
Spoken like a woman who sells a passport to federal welfare for $230,000.