ou are paying $60,000 a year to attend this school.

Regardless of your actual financial situation – you could have a full ride (do we give those?), or have financial aid, or maybe your parents went ahead and paid off the whole year in advance with cash – somehow you are paying $60,000 for your year here. (I’m going to keep repeating that figure to drive it home.) Think about what that number means. With $60,000 you could support a family of four for a year. After two years’ tuition, you could buy a comfortable house for that family. Alternatively, if you’re not so domestically-inclined, you could take about ten European vacations for the price of one year here. Or, if you’re a gamer, maybe you’d consider buying 100 Xbox Ones – they might even give you a discount for buying in bulk. My point is not that tuition is too high. That’s neither here nor there, and personally I feel that you can’t put a price on knowledge. My point is, what are you doing with your life? Quick, name me a movie about college! What was it? PCU? The House Bunny? St Elmo’s Fire?

Well, whatever it was, I’m sure it’s entire premise centers around sober-minded young scholars dutifully focusing their energies on bettering both their intellects and their persons. No?

Well, okay, therein lies the problem. As a society, we don’t tend to think about college as a pantheon of learning. When someone says “college” what we think of is underage drinking, sexual experimentation, and procrastination. Maybe you think I’m overgeneralizing, that I’m being sensationalist. Do a Google image search for the phrase “college life” and just look around a little.  Basically, we as a society are convinced that college is one giant drunken orgy where you occasionally sober up for finals. And you know, I’m not criticizing drunken orgies, underage drinking, or procrastination. And I’m definitely not criticizing sexual experimentation. (Hey guys, I’m single. Winky face.) What I’m criticizing is the fact that if our concept of college centers around social phenomenon, everything goes south real fast. Think about it: let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you spend equal time on academics and social interaction (more on that in a sec). Which one do you give priority to? Honestly here, which is more valuable to you, your social life or your grades? To help you answer, here’s a scenario: it’s Friday night and your friends want to go out and do whatever your group of friends do – drink or dance or form a knitting circle or whatever; now, you have a HUGE assignment due Sunday, but, of course, you could always work on it tomorrow. Then again, you could always hang out with your friends tomorrow, too. All things are equal here: you’ve got equal amounts of time to do the assignment and hang out, each (sort of) equally need to be done. What do you do?

If you decide to go out with your friends, your social life is more important to you than your academics. If you decide to work on your assignment, the opposite is true, and you, my friend, are the rare man indeed.  Now, I also want to point out that for the majority of people, academics take up much less time than their social life. Let’s generously account for eight hours of sleep a night, which gives us 112 waking hours a week. And let’s say you have a staggering eight hours of classes every day. Assuming that the rest of your time is spent in some sort of social interaction (which, I realize, doesn’t account for things like pooping) you would have to spend thirty-two additional hours a week studying to spend as much time on academics as you do on your social life. Yeah, you probably don’t do that. So, not only are you spending more time on your social life than on your academics, you care more about your social life than you do about your academics. Why is this such a problem? Oh, right, you’re paying $60,000 a year. If you’re the average student, academics are not your focus. (Again, repeating this a couple times to drive it home.) Academics take up comparatively little of your time. All things considered, it’s fairly safe to say that the majority of what you do here is not academic. So why are you paying to be here? Are you really willing to pay $60,000 for crappy beer and a 12×12 cell with two roommates? Because it’s not worth it. I don’t care how good your friends here are, meeting them probably wasn’t worth $60,000, nor is attendance to all those crazy frat parties. You know what is worth $60,000 a year, though? A higher education and a degree in a subject about which you’re passionate. about But where does the distinction lie? I mean, even if you socialize, you’re probably still going to get the degree, right? The distinction lies in your priorities. I talked before about whether you focused on academics or social life: that’s what matters. Are you here to have fun and get krunk? Is that why you’re spending your $60,000? Or are you here to learn?

Academics and social life are both important. The question is, which are you paying for, and which is just an added bonus?

Maddox is a member of

the class of 2017.

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