Death, taxes and inflation.
In this current economy, those three things are what we can all bank on and must be ready for. The biggest culprits aside from the Grim Reaper and the government (it can be hard to differentiate the two at times) are thought to be the demonized group of Bilderbergers that meet in secret star chambers using skulls and crossbones to determine our economic fate.
Big oil, Wall Streeters and evil doctors that would prefer to amputate for an ingrown toenail just to pad their wallets are those most commonly targeted.
Yes, oil prices are on the rise, enough to limit our traveling plans, even. The housing bubble burst due in large part banks giving undocumented loans to people who lied about their income. And the evil doctors raised their costs at a higher clip than either of those two. But there is one sector that has increased in cost at a rate more than double any of those three.
Millions of jobs have been lost with this current recession and many of those who can’t find work have turned to the university system to try and better themselves to become more attractive to potential employers. The influx of students and the rising cost of education should give us pause and a chance to take a look in the mirror.
Ronald Reagan made the phrase “trickle-down economics” a household term during the recovery following the disastrous recession of the 1970s. The thought was that giving tax breaks, among other things, would help the job creators create more jobs, allowing the extra money to trickle down to more people. Having more people earning money then allows more money to be spent in communities, adding to the larger economy nationwide.
As I have been thinking about all of these factors, a phrase has popped into my random thought processes: trickle-up education.
Basically, in the world we now live in, you have to have an education of some kind to have even the slightest possibility of landing a decent-paying job. The bachelors degree is the new high school diploma and high school has turned into a do-or-die battleground training for the rest of your life. Gone are the days of hanging out with friends after school and procrastinating on your homework. One blown AP class can be the deciding factor of being accepted to an Ivy League school or Montana State. You have to have that baseline level of education for any hopes of trickling up so that you can trickle down on everyone else someday.
It’s no wonder that Sunday evening anxiety about going back to school after a fun weekend has now turned into a full blown disorder along with soaring Prozac sales. I guess if you’re struggling in the stock market you can always buy up as many shares of Pfizer as you can.
One thing I have learned in my life is that in the face of adversity you have to find what you are grateful for just to stay sane.
As a student at UVU that’s not too difficult. August 15 appears daunting: All that tuition money is due and there isn’t one student that can honestly say they look forward to that transaction. When you take a step back, however, and take things into perspective, our tuition gives us the most bang for our educational buck that you can find.
I’m not a math whiz by anyone’s definition but I have come up with what I believe to be a pretty solid mathematical equation. $2,500 is less than $10,000. If you don’t believe me you can give Stephen Hawking a call. He may not answer, but if he did, he would agree with me.
As mind blowing as it may seem, not only is $10,000 possible but it’s about average for what most universities can require per semester. Again, my math is shaky, but according to my calculations, that adds up to $80,000 for a four-year degree. That doesn’t include the cost for books and room and board. Also, that’s assuming Murphy’s Law stays in hiding and life doesn’t happen.
It’s not unheard of for an undergraduate education to total a figure north of a hundred grand. With the housing market in the shape it’s in now, that could buy you a good sized piece of land or a nice little starter home.
If you aren’t motivated by self-improvement and pride in the work you do, maybe thinking of how much money you have invested in your education might help you to focus a little more and get good grades. Also, remember that just because you have student loans and the money isn’t coming out of your pocket yet, it doesn’t mean you aren’t paying for it. With student loan interest rates skyrocketing, that $80,000 could easily turn out to be double that by the time you have it paid off.
So while you whine about tuition, how mean your professor is or not having enough time to sleep, or play Xbox and stay up all night with your honey, just remember that you will get out of this experience what you put into it.
It’s true you are only young once, but what I would add to that is you will be old forever. What we do know lays the foundation for what we can do when we are in our golden years. I don’t know about you, but I would rather goof around when I actually had some money. My math may be iffy but trust me when I say it would be more fun to take your boat out on the lake, visit every major league ballpark or take a cruise around the Mediterranean than pull an all-nighter playing Halo with that dude from down the hall.
I can feel it in my bones that this will be an amazing year to be a part of this university and the UVU Review. Not because of anything that will be handed to me or that I deserve it, but because I’m going to make it happen.
So when things get tough this year, and they will, just remember to cowboy-up and git-er done.
Jonathan Boldt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jboldt24.