Snapshots Announcements Spotlight UTSA Athletics

February 2011, Issue 4

Message from the Vice President

Dr. Gage E. Paine

College DegreeWhat is a college degree worth? If you write that question for Google, you’ll find more pages than I care to look through (over 8 million) so I don’t know what they all say. However the ones ‘on top’ all address some variation on the issue of money – lifetime earnings and the difference (or not) a college graduate can expect compared to someone without a college degree.

If you change the question to ask ‘What is the value of a college degree?’, Google gives you over 12 million pages to examine. (I did not.) There are many pages that were included in the above set. I even saw one that compared potential earnings to just taking four years of college tuition and investing it. However in my limited review I did notice a difference. Now there are a few pages that address the idea of quality of life – longer life spans, better dietary and health processes, greater community service and leadership and less criminal activity and incarceration, for example.

When you change the question again to ask about the value of a college education, you are offered over 14 million pages to review. These pages seem to include all of the ones above, but now there are also pages that address the idea of college as a life-changing experience. Here’s an example. “What colleges do best is bring people, smart people, together in an environment where they have time to read, reflect, explore, listen, argue and especially, stretch their known boundaries.”*

That was written in 1997 and we all know that college has gotten much more expensive since then. We know that more students need to work and some students don’t really understand or explore the depth and breadth of the intellectual and interpersonal learning available to them. And so we come to the work of our division – little of which directly applies toward the degree, but all of which should be applicable to every student’s education. Those quality of life issues are where we work – leadership, community engagement, self-care, understanding that our decisions have consequences, to name just a few. There are, of course, classes that address these areas, but we work in them every day, all of the time.

We know that as a public university we have an important responsibility to help prepare a future workforce and that students from UTSA need to be prepared to be great employees when they graduate. But we also know that opportunities for engaging in deeper learning, finding broader applications, and grappling with richer questions happen both inside and outside of the classroom. “Knowing how to live up to our highest aspirations – how to choose well what we want to be and do, this is the opportunity that college offers us as individuals…. College is where visionary minds go to be challenged, grow, and mature. It is also where people go who aspire to have visionary minds.”*

Nationally and regionally there are real budget issues that must be faced. There are real questions that must be asked and it is our responsibility to provide clear, data-supported answers to explain the ways we increase the value of a college degree. Can you answer the question, how does your work increase the worth and value of a college degree?

I look forward to hearing from you. (click here)

Best wishes,