Worth the cost
Mennonite higher education more than a degree
After attending public school through eighth grade, I reluctantly transferred to Christopher Dock Mennonite High School in Lansdale, Pa. By my junior year, however, I had fallen in love with Anabaptist-Mennonite values and education. Sort of.
When I took the SAT that year, I sent my scores to three schools: Ithaca (N.Y.) College, the University of Rochester and the University of Vermont. I knew I wanted a prestigious school in the pristine mountains of New England. I hoped to get a good scholarship, play college tennis in the summer and go skiing in the winter.
I ended up choosing Goshen (Ind.) College, located in what I now like to somewhat facetiously call “the promised land” (Gen. 46:34, 47:27).
My senior year in high school it became clear to me that Goshen was where I needed to be. Goshen wasn’t the cheapest nor the most distinguished school I considered. But its educational and social foundations are built on Anabaptist-Mennonite distinctives. And, like many students say of their campus, “it just felt right.”
But it came with a cost. Like most other students, I graduated with a load of debt. Yet for various reasons my debt, while overwhelming, was not insurmountable.
It’s no secret: Over the past few decades, the rising cost of education has outpaced both inflation and income. And with an increasing number of people going to college, student debt is at historic levels.
However, as noted in “Colleges Aim to Hold Grads’ Debt in Check” (MWR, May 14), debt data don’t tell the whole story when weighing the value and cost of a Mennonite college education. Neither does the “sticker price” when judging affordability.
A degree, especially from a Mennonite college, cannot fully communicate the expansive learning that occurs inside and outside the classroom. No degree guarantees a full-time job in an appropriate field. But a Mennonite college, as best it can, prepares you for life.
Formal education is one point in a triangle of discipleship that also includes the family and the church. Mennonite educational experiences can help students discern their vocation. And Mennonite college attendance correlates strongly with future church involvement.
It’s become fashionable in some circles to call college a waste of money. A recent CBS 60 Minutes piece profiled PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, one of the best-educated, wealthiest entrepreneurs in the U.S. today. He is paying selected college students $100,000 to drop out and pursue their passions. “The less-good colleges are like the subprime mortgage lenders where people are being conned into thinking that this credential is the one thing you need to do better in life,” he said.
College, Mennonite or otherwise, is not for everyone. But for our college-bound youth, we must continue to recommend our Mennonite schools, even to students who, like I once did, seemingly prefer a more prestigious academy. For me and many others, a Mennonite college education is worth every dollar, even the ones we borrowed.
Comment on the article Worth the cost
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.