Saturday, February 18, 2012

When Sh*t Gets Real, or, the Need for a Lower-Cost Higher Education

There comes a moment in everyone's life where you realize how real things are. Growing up in your parents house, living in the safe physical and financial confines of home and college, and being able to live within your hopes and dreams are luxuries that eventually run out. Life hits, shit gets real, and we end up stumbling through a life that we used to have time to sit around the coffeeshop and figure out.

I am a career counselor at a state school in Washington (UW Tacoma) where the students are coming from modest economic means and trying to make a better life for themselves or their families. Students come in to my office wondering what to do with their interdisciplinary arts and science degree and no real experience. I want to tell them "nothing, good luck" because someone should have encouraged them to take some practical steps towards their career a long time ago.

That's not me, though. That's not my job. and I don't mean my job as a career counselor. I mean my job as God has sent me to help these students and give them hope. So, no matter how frustrating it is to sit with these clueless students and wonder who did them the disservice of not telling them anything along the way, I start to come up with a practical plan. "It's going to be hard" is something I might say. "The more you are willing to sacrifice your time and income now, the better off you'll be in the long-run." They walk away with hope, thankful that someone at a college is ready to advocate for their best interests.

I looked at my budget today and realized that I've paid far too much for my college education. (Word to the wise, don't get a liberal arts degree) The Saxifrage School is running a breakout session at the Jubilee Conference today, which has made me so excited about the need for low-cost, practical higher education. Excited that a cure may start to bloom. Excited that there are people starting a school with the intention of giving students a real, practical education and real, practical life experience along the way for a price tag that's worth paying.

I could say a lot more, but maybe y'all should just watch the video below and think for yourselves instead of letting me tell you what to think. After all, that was the original purpose of higher education, was it not?

The Saxifrage Idea from Saxifrage School on Vimeo.