Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
I bet we’ve all seen posts online about how to handle difficult topics that are raised during holiday parties.
In that vein, you should be prepared to engage someone with strong, but misplaced, opinions regarding higher education. My standard response to any statement with which I take exception is, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.” It’s disarming – you’re not directly disagreeing with the person – and you’ll no doubt find out where they’ve gone astray. The answer often is akin to “Well, everyone knows that…”
Here are three misconceptions you might hear and how you might turn the conversation into a learning moment.
“College is too expensive.”
My glib response is, “You’re not worth it?” More diplomatically, I might observe that half the students attending SCICU colleges and universities are Pell eligible, meaning the most economically disadvantaged. If they can attend, that “sticker price” isn’t really an impediment. SCICU member institutions put up nearly $300 million of institutional scholarships and grants with the goal of putting college within reach of all students.
“Student loans are out of control.”
I wrote a whole column about student loan myths, but a thought-provoking answer is, “The median student loan at SCICU colleges and universities is $27,000. Now, suppose I asked you to take out a loan for $27,000 and invest the money in a way that will pay back about $1 million over the next 35 years, I bet you’d do it.” That’s just what an education at our institutions is worth compared to those who don’t earn a college four-year degree.
“Studying the liberal arts is a waste of time.”
I like to observe that people who study the liberal arts are better, not less, equipped for success in our quickly changing economy. According to Dell, 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. If you learned to do one thing, you’re future is at risk. But if you’re skilled at thinking critically, adapting, and communicating with others to achieve a goal, you’ll be employed as long as you want to be. And while liberal arts graduates tend to have lower starting salaries than other degrees, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, they catch up by around age 40 – often becoming the managers!
I hope these tips help keep the holidays cordial, and give you the chance to share the gift of knowledge.
Give me a reading assignment. I’d like to know what you think are “must reads.” Any genre. Send me your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish all of you the Happiest of Holidays.