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Food For Thought

They said it right there on the six o’clock news - “A college education is no longer worth the cost.” Then, they added the information that the average student graduates from college with $17,000 of debt. Doesn’t sound like so much to me – the price of a new car, and not an extravagantly luxurious one at that. Still, quite a bit more than my Social Security checks amount to over a year. Definitely nothing to sneeze at. The total tab for an average college education was quoted as being $140,000, but how can anybody consider that to be too much money to spend for all you get out of those four years in college?
For starters (doubled lifetime income aside) the college experience changes you, dramatically, from that green, know-it-all high school grad, simply by exposing you to all sorts of things you would never have known about otherwise. You meet people you would never have met or dealt with in your hometown. You read books that aren’t even on the shelves of your local library. You are required to master subjects you would have avoided by choice, subjects you considered of no practical use to your future, only to discover that they opened up whole new worlds and endless choices. Things that changed your life for the better.
Going to college tends to delay the choice to marry and have children. Not necessarily a plus in itself, but for both men and women, added age and experience usually result in more wisdom, better judgment, and greater ability to cope with the needs and demands of a family and household. You are not so likely to wake up some morning, around your early thirties, and discover you are bogged down among the diapers and grocery bills and missed out on a whole lot of things you’d always intended to do “someday” and to realize, now, that you’re a slave to some hasty choices you made when you thought there was “all the time in the world.”
Do you honestly believe that a parent without a good education is as capable as the parent who has been through four years of college? Do you really believe those psychology, science, history, and social science classes are of no use when it comes to nurturing and guiding the growth and education of the children? Do you feel that the great plays, concerts, and other performances they enjoyed are useless when it comes to enriching the lives of their offspring and other people in their lives? Don’t you think that parents with advanced education are better able to understand and carry out complicated instructions from the family doctor, the pharmacist, their children’s teachers?
The big question here is; Do you truly believe that the future of the human race is in the children, that every generation should be an improvement on the last, and that education is the most direct means of achieving that goal? If so, then there’s no way you can believe that ANY price is too much to pay for that education.
Even though I have little money to donate toward organizations that help needy students, there are things I have been able to do. I belong to a number of groups that provide scholarships for graduating high school students. Aside from the modest monetary gifts I am able to give them, I’ve found other ways to help raise money. Two of those organizations are populated by people who are writers and artists. Years ago, one of these groups started thanking its guest speakers with small packets of original note cards made by its members. After a few years, that practice went by the wayside but stuck in the back of my mind. After I became fairly proficient on the computer and learned to use my scanner and printer to design more professional-looking note cards, the members of one of those organizations were eager to purchase the cards at a price that more than covered the cost of making them but still was a savings over commercially-available cards. The difference is donated to a scholarship fund which goes entirely to the students selected with nobody else taking a percentage of it for ‘administrative costs.’ Using the cards not only supports the scholarship fund, it makes the organization and the works of its members more visible and provides delightful alternatives to the commercially available cards. Part of the satisfaction for me is in knowing that something I am able to do – and that I enjoy doing – can go a long way toward helping others. I believe it was Barbara Bush who said that helping others “has nothing to do with how big your bank account is. Everyone has something to give.”
This is much the same as the note cards we made using photos from the book Solon Snapshots that came out last July. The cards are still available at a modest price and ALL the profit goes directly to the Solon Library, as essential as any school when it comes to learning. Look for them at the library and at Beef Days.