College Degrees & Dollars

Posted: 29th May 2011 by EricBierker in Careers

One of the equations in education that students in schools are taught is more education = more money. More Benjamins. Statistically, that has been shown to be a fact. Climb the ladder of education, more dollars bills await as a rule. That has been true in the past; it might not be so in the future. One of the truly scary reversals of our present time is more education may create a debt that the ladder of success will be subsumed by.  Simply, that college degree will cost a young person more than its eventual financial payout justifies. There are certain majors that still are safer bets that others but be assured that it is a bet these days to go to Ben Franklin University. Anyone who dismisses this a passing concern doesn’t really care about kids and this society. Or already has theirs.

But, is money really the final arbiter of a good life versus bad? Let us expand why a student should go to college. Is it to have fun, make good friends, cheer at footballs games, and barely get a degree. Or, worse yet. To flunk out? No. Is it to addle one’s brains in binge drinking, hooking up, cutting class, and thinking that somehow the system has been gamed by that ruination? Hardly. No, the purpose of college is to discover one’s purpose: How best can I serve a world in need with the talents and gifts that God has given me? My gift to God and humanity is what I do with what has been given. What is your return on the investment? Maybe college is not the best way to discover your destiny…maybe it is. But, be careful in framing your future monetarily.

Much of the lack of clarity about this purpose has been clouded by the mesmerizing allure of money and the the cha-ching. One of the benefits of growing up in one of the wealthiest enclaves in the U.S., the Mainline of Philadelphia, was seeing that money often brings more misery. My neighborhood alone had enough tragedy and sad stories to create a series rivaling Stephen King’s collective writings of horror.  Seriously, it was frightening. Alcoholism, cancer, adultery, divorce, drugs, child abuse, bullies, suicides, arson, heart attacks. General weirdness. But, nice lawns!

How about Arnold Schwarzenegger? He turned his Austrian muscle into American cash…movies, Hummers, the governorship of California,  and married into the Kennedy clan…an American aristocracy. His wife, Maria Shriver, by all accounts, a good and godly woman, despite the creepiness in the back story of how the Kennedy’s came to power and then have been quite cursed by the Faustian bargain of the patriarch three generations past.

This power couple had enough money to have a maid…Arnold and her had illicit sex at least once. An adulterous affair. And now Arnie is deflated, his wife humiliated, and their children bewildered and betrayed. True, the Arn man might decide to ride off into the sunset with a new and fresh hottie…he has enough money to pay for another act on the stage of the rich and famous. But, his conscience will hag him and his kids will probably at least be badly hurt by his driving away, if not hate him.  Maria will most likely just pity him in the end. Let us hope for repentance and reconciliation, yet tell me, did the money accelerate the ability of Arnie to be destructive and damaging? You betcha.  Wreckage, plain and simple.

Money is one of those things that it is important to have enough to live reasonably….food, shelter, clothing, health care, a car that works. In the end, one can drive a Mercedes to point B or a Honda Civic. Based on the specs, the Honda will get you there cheaper and more reliably. True about the scale of luxury….there is point crossed fairly soon that what one is buying with the gold is prestige and only prestige…that engenders pride and envy temporarily (this life). The Rolex tells the same time as the Timex. And both are winding down. You can wear at watch to the grave if you want, but what does it matter? Impress people at your funeral. Oooh, look a Rolex!

It is interesting that Ben Franklin’s visage on the $ 100 bill portrays him as ambivalent. He doesn’t look real happy. Nor sad. He has the look of a man who has seen much of what the world has to offer and been fortunate to have much of what his eyes has seen. And, he seems to be expressing, so what?

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