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Value of knowledge over capital

| Thursday, January 16, 2014

My senior year of high school, it seemed like I was becoming best friends with my guidance counselor. I would see her almost every day about college applications, and I was in her office so much that I actually memorized the walls. What I remember most is a sign in her office that read: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” When I think back, this is only one of the many pieces of wisdom that Mrs. Mary Charles offered me that year.
How unfortunate it would be to live in ignorance, not experiencing what the world has to offer or what the human mind is capable of achieving. Life is simply sweeter and more satisfying when one is aware. A college education allows students to move beyond their comfort zones, experience new things and develop their passions. It informs them of the urgency for a new generation of scholars, innovators, leaders, politicians, financiers and scientists. It is meant to inspire them to become those people. The amount of knowledge and enlightenment that can be received through higher education is invaluable because it will greatly improve one’s quality of life. The ability to think critically, communicate effectively and respond compassionately to the world at large are skills that can be applied to all aspects of life and that can only be fully acquired through higher education.
It saddens me that so many college students are motivated not by passion or desire for knowledge, but by the elusive promise of a higher salary after graduation. Too often, the only goals are stability, financial security and corporate society’s definition of success. These are surely important to a certain degree, but the true value of a college education lies not in the bank, but in the human mind. Too many students go through college only focusing on memorizing facts for the next exam or writing what the professor wants to hear, rather than actually accumulating knowledge. They take for granted the irreplaceable opportunity they have been given to learn and grow. Through higher education, one can make informed political decisions, engage in intelligent conversation and appreciate the accomplishments of the human race. College provides an environment for one to develop passions — to pursue a career that is truly, personally satisfying rather than only one monetarily profitable.
With a college education, comes the responsibility to utilize that knowledge for the improvement of others and the community. An education should not only benefit the individual, but the entirety of society. Without education, societal problems would remain unsolved, nations would fall to anarchy and the beauty and intricacy of the human mind would go to waste. Everyone has something to contribute to the global community, and one owes it to the world to reach one’s fullest potential because it could bring about a tremendous impact. It is tragic that this greater goal is often lost as people focus only on their individual gain and profit.
It is no secret that college tuition in the United States is rapidly increasing and that the University of Notre Dame stands among the highest-costing institutions in the country. Many believe a college education necessary because they believe it to be the stepping stone to a good job and steady income.

With tuition increasing, however, many Americans now associate a college education with an obscene amount of loans and mounting debt, and they wonder if a college education has become an unnecessary expense. If the only value a college education holds for an individual is its promise of financial security, then perhaps it has become unnecessary, because that cannot be guaranteed even by Notre Dame’s impressive statistics. But for those who desire to become the best that they can be, lead lives of satisfaction and awareness and contribute to the betterment of society, the value of higher education is in and of itself.

Bianca Almada is a sophomore residing in Cavanaugh Hall. She is studying English, Spanish and Journalism. She can be contacted at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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