“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin
In today’s workplace environment, earning a livable income with room for a schooling fund for your children often requires a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s. Some medical professions require an additional decade in schooling post high school graduation. With undergrad tuitions alone in the low $30,000’s to the upper $60,000’s per year, many students resort to student debt in an effort to fund their education. Would Ben still claim today that knowledge pays the best interest even when swimming in a sea of loans?
Even though education and professional opportunities have changed significantly since Ben spearheaded the founding of U Penn, the role university’s play in producing the next world leaders has not. Many of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, were college educated. Even in 2015, Mark Begich was the only senator to not go to college. The difference between 1700 and 2015 is that in the 18th century, only the elite went to college. In 1700, university cost 10 shillings per quarter (the equivalent of 2 sets of shoes and stockings) and college enrollment did not exceed 4,000 nationwide. Even though college was fairly affordable, it was a place for the most prestigious families who could afford to lose the extra manual labor. As a consequence, all the future leaders came from families of repute. Today, colleges seek to create opportunities for those from less wealthy families through scholarships and financial aid. Consequentially, more people have the opportunity to become the next leaders, but that also means that a college degree means less and less in guaranteeing leadership success.
Education still pays interest today by opening the door to the professional world, but in reality the interest is mainly avoiding the cost of not receiving a college diploma. Mainly, college today gives opportunities for people from all backgrounds to seek better opportunity. Unfortunately, with more and more high school students seeking college education, the benefits of that degree, such as leadership potential and competitive edge, matter less and less.