My wife and I had a conversation the other day about the relative worth of college education, stemming from an episode of Jeopardy
! in which I knew the answers to obscure questions having to do with Beowolf
, the Illiad
, the Oddyssey
, and the Aeneid
. I told her I knew those answers because of the Great Books classes I took at Hillsdale College.
This led into further discussion of whether my education at Hillsdale was really worth it. I have no doubt that I receieved a higher-value education there than I would have at many other colleges: certainly I (and most of my classmates) am well-rounded and well-informed citizens.
There is also no doubt that I paid a lot more for this education. If I don't pay extra (which I am), I will pay off my college loans in 2014. From an economic standpoint, the question is: is attending an upper-echelon college worth the money?
One answer might be that a better education leads to a better job, but the job I have now, in information technology, is one that I could have gotten without a Hillsdale College degree. A degree from any decent college would have sufficed. Of my friends in college, most of them, with one or two exceptions, could say the same.
So why should someone bother with a high-value college education? Are the intangible benefits of understanding the Illiad
and knowing the tangled history of 18th century Europe really worth it? Or is there another side that I'm missing here?