CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Opinion

March 18, 2013

COMMENTARY: College Benefits Go Beyond Money

Every fall, just before classes begin, we at UCLA send thousands of our new students out to volunteer projects at schools, parks and community centers across Los Angeles. It's a massive effort that serves our city and sets the tone for their experience. The takeaway: You are part of something greater, and you have a responsibility to help others however you can.

I admire the recent efforts by Sens. Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden to provide students with information about how much they will earn if they attend college and pursue different courses of study, but I also worry about how students will be influenced. The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act is a clear reaction to rising college costs and mounting student debt. President Barack Obama also recently launched a similar bang-for-your-buck "College Scorecard."

Unfortunately, framing higher education as a "return on investment" is wrongheaded — a result of states' growing disinvestment in higher education. Diminishing support shows a lack of recognition for the ways higher education benefits society, sending a message that college is something people do just for themselves, not also for their communities.

Such data can be highly misleading. A graduate's income in the first few years after college is a poor barometer of earnings potential later in life. Students might join the military, Teach for America or the Peace Corps and then go on to higher salaries in their 30s or 40s.

I also fear that the emphasis on measurable data, such as earnings, will overshadow unmeasurable data, such as what it means for a medical school graduate to practice in a poor, underserved area. Or what it means to become a teacher at a low-performing high school and inspire others to apply to college.

Text Only
Opinion
  • EDITORIAL: Gaining a lifetime of success

    The arguments for a deeper investment in the arts for public school children are overwhelmingly favorable. The money is simply not following the logic.

    April 6, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Gun bill backfires

    State Sen. Scott Beason, a Gardendale Republican, who will soon vacate his seat, is feeling a sense of disappointment that his bill to allow Alabamians to carry loaded handguns in their cars without a concealed weapon permit was shot down this week.

    April 5, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Above and beyond

    The announcement of the annual Distinguished Citizen and Unsung Heroes recipients by The Cullman Times has revealed another lineup of caring people who go the extra mile in building a better local community.

    April 3, 2014

  • LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Enough is enough, stop child abuse now

    In 2013, 32 children died in Alabama as the direct result of child abuse.

    April 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A chance to lead growth

    In an era that concluded about a generation ago, residents of any average town or city in America had pretty much one destination for shopping.

    April 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Out of date, out of time

    The Alabama State Constitution, one of the nation’s oldest at 113 years old, continues to linger despite a wide range of efforts to completely rewrite the document.

    April 2, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A private matter on display

    Following the arguments generated by legalized abortion leave many people in this generation walking away from the issue with a sense of confusion.

    April 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Drug policy sensible, needed

    Cullman City School officials’ decision to slow plans for implementing a student drug testing program was reached after a series of public input meetings.

    April 1, 2014

  • Commentary: Why your Facebook friends are so gullible

    These stories aren't real. They're the work of the New Yorker's not-particularly-funny online satirist Andy Borowitz, but many people, not just your gullible Facebook friends, invariably believe them. Sometimes the official state news agencies of global superpowers believe them.

    March 19, 2014

  • news_ryan.jpg COMMENTARY: 8 sly code words and why politicians love them

    When Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., talked about a "real culture problem" in "our inner cities in particular" last week, he wasn't the first American politician to be slammed for using racially coded language to get a point across.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo