June 5, 2020

Putting A Price Tag On Providence

posted on: Thursday October 7, 2010

Kerry Vaughan ’12 / Commentary Staff

Just the other day, while drinking a ten cent cup of Slavin tap water and struggling to read through approximately $2.86 worth of homework (hot off the press), a funny thought came over me. It occurred to me that I was paying large sums of money to do homework; more specifically, I was paying large sums of money to lead the ever-stressful, sleep-deprived lifestyle of a college student. The world we live in today is one in which the best things in life are rarely free; one for which you have to pay a hefty price to live out the best four years of your life. Providence College just recently joined the elite ranks of the Fifty-Grand-and-Up Tuition Club, putting the pressure on its students and their families in a big way. The cost of a college education as it stands today seems a bit unfathomable when you look at the job market. But still, walking around twenty-first century America without a bachelor’s degree is like walking around without shoes on—you’re bound to get stepped on. I find it rather ironic that we pay lots of money to go to college so that one day we can make lots of money to pay off loans, and eventually save enough for our kids to go to college, so that they can make enough money to do the same for their children. It’s a vicious cycle.

While I won’t argue that we are all here on this campus with the sole intention of one day making the big bucks, you can’t deny that money has had some sort of an influence on your experience here at PC—you wouldn’t be here without it. Maybe it has put extra pressure on your parents at work, or maybe it’s required you to get a job on campus. Perhaps it has even forced you to put passion on the backburner for a major that seems financially promising. The fact of the matter is, we live in a world that is motivated by money, a place where success and practicality are measured in dollar signs. And so I pose the question: where is the true value of a college education? Sure, we have statistics suggesting that people with college degrees earn up to twice as much in a lifetime as those who do not, but what does the price tag on Providence really mean?

Seeing as I generally leave Ray hungrier than I was when I entered, I have doubts that my meal plan is worth $3800, and it pains me to think that I pay to take some of the classes that I take. But maybe the value of four years at PC goes beyond the things that have price tags—it’s possible that the greatest things we take away from our experience here are the things we don’t pay for. Perhaps it’s within the friendships we form, the activities we involve ourselves in, and the lessons we learn both in and outside of the classroom. So, I’m not sure it’s fair to put a price tag on a college education, because an education gives each of us the opportunity to make something of ourselves and promises potential. And for my money, potential has a value that is virtually limitless. Whether or not PC is worthy of being in the Fifty-Grand-and–Up Tuition Club is for you to decide. But it helps to remember: Organic Chemistry text book: $241.00. Printing out an excessively long Civ reading in the library: $10.37. Living in McDermott: $6,790. Individual McDermott building fine at the end of the year: $251.10. Getting an education that gives you the chance to transform yourself and the world around you—PRICELESS. There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s Friarbucks.

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