It’s funny (not funny) to think about how expensive education has become. These repositories of knowledge called universities that, supposedly, provide the key to a better future seem to thrive on burying the lower to middle class student in debt. First, they require you to leverage this future in the form of student loans. 30k later and half a Masters degree (the 1st 20k was from those good old undergrad years) and I am just now figuring that out. By the time I am done with my education I could possibly spend over $100,000 [update: final total with PhD- over a quarter of a million dollars, that’s $250,000!] for a fancy piece of paper, a little prestige, and the ability to teach others while they wallow in their own debt, wondering how to buy groceries for their kids.
Sadly, receiving a “Christian” education is even more expensive than a secular education, because “Christian” means “private”, which, in turn, means $$$ (or £££). An analogical form of Darwinism seems to apply here; a person’s education and the future of education as a whole is based on the fittest (or fattest) wallet.
I wonder what the world would be like if someone were to offer free non-merit based higher-education. Would the local economy go up? Would gas prices go down? Would colleges have gang signs etched into the toilet seats and graphic art on the bathroom stall walls? Would the private Christian education bubble burst and unsaved kids might actually meet Jesus in the classroom?
Ah, but that is why we have scholarships! So the underprivileged sons of the middle-class working man, like me, can attend a fancy University. But, we all know that scholarship money provides just enough to entice us to enroll in the institution. So, we turn to student loans in order to buy Mac & Cheese to feed the kids while providing warm socks and the occasional soccer ball for entertainment. Don’t kick that thing to hard! It has to last until Dad’s next loan check comes in! Higher-education is supposed to make our future look bright, but, actually, the hole which we find ourselves in afterwards is dark, smelling of fatalistic necessity and institutional corruption.
How does acquiring this sanctified debt prepare me for the mission field? How does a monthly payment of hundreds of dollars make me a better Pastor (or, God forbid, the underfunded and unappreciated Youth Pastor)? How does buying overprice textbooks help me learn more about the free gift of grace? Maybe we can recoup some of the costs by charging for discipleship? Or, at very least, require a minimum donation.
I can’t help but wistfully think that, maybe, some founding university president set all of this up by accidentally misconstruing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thoughts on “this” subject when he read the following quote out of context: “…. a nation became Christian and Lutheran, but at the cost of true discipleship.” Raise those prices, we got a great product to sell, everlasting life and how to use it. For a limited time only we will throw in a 10% discount because you are a grad student.
A Tongue and Cheek Blog by Josh Carroll