Is it Worth It?

By Amanda Dickson:

This is Ashley, who I call Ashey.  I discovered her on the couch, still studying, as I left for work early one morning this December.  Ashey was cramming for finals at the University of Utah, where she is studying to be a special education teacher.  She will be so gifted in this role. “Oh, Ashey, you’re going to be exhausted,” I said sympathetically. “It’s alright,” she replied. “I guess I’ll just keep going now until I go to work.” I remember late nights.  They are horrible.  I asked what I could do for her, and she said she was fine.  Then, remembering this blog post, I asked if I could take her photo. “Sure, I guess.” She’s a good sport.  I explained to her that I was writing a column about how the sacrifice of working hard while you’re in college is worth it, that the giving up of sleep and social life and money is worth it for the fulfilling life she’ll get to have later. I’m not sure she was convinced, but she posed anyway. I didn’t take the time to explain to her then how important college is to a happy life, although she’s heard my thoughts before and I know she is a believer.  Note I did not say a successful life, although I believe that, too.  I think it’s important for a happy life because it broadens your view of the world.  It expands your heart.  It opens your eyes – all at once. I heard a story the other day about a judge in Brazil who would agree to reduce inmates’ sentences by four days for each book they would read and write a brief paper on.  Four days for each book from an approved list of books.  (Probably no trashy novels.  Classics only.)  I think I understand what the judge was going for – some of the same things I believe come with a college education. Reading those books will lift their hearts, their lives, their understanding of the human condition, and may have an effect on the choices they make later in life. So, as my Cameron and my Ashey finish their umpteenth paper and final this week and may have a moment of pause, and for all those who wonder, “Is it worth it?” let me lend my unwavering voice, “Yes.” Not necessarily because of your resume, although there are doors that will simply not open without it.  Not necessarily because of your self-esteem, although I know people who have never felt fully confident no matter how educated they become outside the classroom without the college diploma to prove it. But because those years of sharing the expansion of your mind with other human beings, of being forced to study subjects you are inclined to think are irrelevant to you, will bless you and your family in ways you won’t know until your daughter looks at you with pride and doesn’t ask if she is going to college, but where.