“What’s the value of a college education?” We’ve heard this question countless times, often linked to statistics about salary and quality of life when teachers, college reps, and parents have made the pitch about the benefits of higher learning.

But when we consider the pros of college, perhaps we should instead ask ourselves, “What’s the value of a college experience?”

Sure, earning a degree will probably make it a lot easier to get a higher paying job, particularly if you’re like many UR students and medicine or engineering is your ideal profession. But our tuition, what we’re paying for here, is a whole lot more than just access to professors and a diploma that “proves” we’re thoroughly educated in our field.

This is a time like no other in our lives – we’re surrounded by people our own age who are passionate about learning, hopeful for the future, and ready for what life throws at them. We have endless opportunities and resources at our disposal in a way that they will never be again: the career center, University Health Services, Georgen Athletic Center, expansive libraries staffed with highly qualified librarians, hundreds of clubs and social activities meeting within 10 minutes of our residence halls, and for some of us, unlimited access to a buffet of food.

In theory, we want to take advantage of all that college life has to offer. Four years go by fleetingly, and getting the most out of the tuition is certainly something to aspire to. But for many students, taking a balanced approach to college life can be challenging and for some nearly impossible.

Many of us find our niche early on. Whether it be academics, athletics, extracurriculars, or our social life, we get used to a particular routine that typically favors a specific sphere of college life. Eventually, the myriad of options that seem to overwhelm freshmen becomes more background noise than anything else.

Soon, life can become an academic rollar coaster of chemistry labs, biology workshops, and papers. Or, the weekly routine can be an extracurricular juggling act of Mock Trial, College Democrats, Student Senate, and Meliora Capital. Soon, whatever the respective focus of one’s routine, the daily grind can become an extreme, a rutt, and very quickly something impossible.

The solution – balance. College is a plethora of options, and if we only take advantage of any single aspect, we’re selling ourselves short. These are the years to mold ourselves into the people we will become, and while we have all clearly opted out of a liberal arts education, there’s still something to be said about being a well-rounded person.

We have the rest of our lives to be specialized, to focus on our individual careers or personal life missions. But college is a place where it’s important to explore everything, do everything, and work towards a balanced life.


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