Lance Scranton: Too expensive
School has begun, and one of the units we study early in the semester is critical thinking. Distinguishing between facts and opinions these days is a crucial part of living in our republic and ferreting out the news from those trying to be newsmakers. Students generally consider themselves fairly good thinkers, and most are, but when it comes to thinking critically about an issue or idea, they can fall a little short unless they consider the rallying points of reliable information.
One issue that gets in the way of critical thinking is college. Some students think it is just too expensive and not worth the debt.
“What a waste of time and money,” they think. “I’m going to graduate and get a job or go to a trade school or begin an apprenticeship and make money, not waste it on more school!”
“Fair enough,” is my response, but let’s look at the facts: College does cost a fair amount of money (too much, in my estimation) and it takes four years to earn a degree. That’s a long time! But let’s say you graduate from high school and start working.
You find yourself a steady job, and life starts unfolding for you — as it does for most people. One day, you’re driving by the local car dealership and spot a nice-looking vehicle you could really use to get back and forth to work. Makes sense, until the model you choose comes back with a $30,000 to $65,000 price tag! But, it’s OK! You have a good job, and besides, they are giving you six years to pay it off — and with that kind of time, you can dress it up even more, because you can handle a $600 to $700 payments each month. (I leave out the part about $800 times 72 months only amounting to around $57,000 dollars.) You’re working for a living!
By the time you roll out with your new ride, you likely have added someone to your relationship circle, and depending on your particular value set, you might even have another addition to your family soon! You’ve got rent (or maybe you bought a house), and all the other bills that come along with being an adult.
Living life is expensive, and when you really think about the cost of a four-year degree, it starts to seem fairly reasonable, considering all the facts. The point I try to make with my classes is that not furthering your education shouldn’t just be a matter of cost — living life costs money; it’s just a matter of considering what you want to be spending your money on in five or 10 years.
These are the things we discuss in class when teaching students to think critically. We want our children to make informed decisions and have as many options built into their career choices as we can.
Critical thinking goes a long way toward considering the issues from a few different perspectives and really understanding how important decisions will be, especially when they’re walking into the cool breeze of an unknown future.
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.
The history of Northwest Colorado has no shortage of fascinating characters. A.G. and Augusta Wallihan are no exception.