College experience worth the cost of tuition

Students don’t remember everything they learn in college, but opportunities for growth make it worth the cost.

Liam Savage, Writer

Here we are at Biola University, a premier Christian university with some of the best scholars in the world to educate us in everything from art to sociology. As full-time students, we take anywhere from 12 to what feels like 40 units a semester and are continually barraged with an onslaught of reading, homework and exams to prove that we are, in fact, gaining the knowledge. But are we really learning it?

Low retention of college studies after graduation

The average college students only retain 40 percent of the factual knowledge they learn in college two years after graduation, and only 20 percent four years after graduation according to the observations of Will Thalheimer, a researcher on learning and performance. Granted, there are techniques for greater retention and study habits that would enable students to learn the material better. However, these are still imperfect and it is a fact that we will know significantly less about what we majored in than we feel we should, especially when considering the price tag of our education.

College experience worth the cost of tuition

If this is the case, are we really getting our money’s worth? Despite the dismal facts about memory retention, I would say yes. College is an experience unlike any other. It is not only a time for mental growth and the accruing of factual knowledge, but more importantly, a time for social, emotional and spiritual growth.

Consider with me, if you will, your life prior to beginning school as a freshman. Most of you probably lived with your family, which implies that you were financially dependent on them as well as under their authority. Decisions such as the food you ate, how late you stayed up, where, with whom and in what way you spent your time were most likely controlled in some way.

University life eliminates many of these restrictions and provides an environment where we have financial responsibilities as well as evaluations based on our performance. You have free reign to study all day and go to bed early, or play another round of Halo Reach until you realize it is five in the morning, you have class in three hours, you missed your opportunity to study, and you have only enough time to shower and eat something — at which point you blame your roommate for being a bad influence.

College provides opportunities for growth

In all seriousness, college is an opportunity to find out who you are and how you operate in the world. You are practicing life before you go out and start in the big, scary, real world. Biola provides a sacred space — I know you’ve been hearing that phrase a lot, but it’s really true! — for you to discover and shape who you want to be after graduation.

Take advantage of the opportunity, because the patterns of living you establish here will serve you the rest of your life. Be sure you are taking time to grow socially, enjoy your friends, edify and be edified. Direct attention to growing emotionally and discover the confidence in yourself that you should have as a beloved child of God. Be intentional in your school work, acknowledging this as a precious and privileged opportunity from God to become one of the best-educated and wealthiest people in the world.

Most importantly, use this time to realize who God is to you and what role he has in your life. I think in our oversaturated Christian culture it is somehow easy to put our responsibility to honor God out of our minds. Remember who you are: a creature created by an all-powerful, all-loving God, who has extended infinite grace to you despite your unworthiness. Pursue God above all else because the purpose of college is the same as the purpose of your life. The purpose of the whole world and the purpose of everything in it is to bring glory to God.

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