THE SANTA CLARA
January 21, 2016
Last week’s opinion piece was so basically, economically and morally wrong that I don’t know where to begin my response. The business major who wrote it would likely want a quick, practical response to his opinion on student debt, so I’ll give him one. Like most large investments, such as a house or a marriage, you have to evalute its worth over time. Studies will show time and again that:
a. Regardless of major, your salary will pan out relatively equivalent to a business major’s ten years after you graduate from a university.
b. Students who hold even so much as $200,000 in debt will likely pay it off anywhere from six to 10 times over in their lives, based on their salaried jobs (which do exist).
Point made. But I’m not done. What I would instead like to do is look beyond simple economics and examine what Andy Hudlow believes, is the true function of a university. We have sharply different views on this.
A university, in Mr. Hudlow’s eyes, is a collection of functions in a machine. You take the following classes and move in the previously constructed circles to line up with the predetermined internship. This done, you will spend the requisite two or three years at your firm, and so on. College is reduced to the false choice of either a get-rich-quick scheme or a highly overpriced waste of time.
In response to these false labels, I offer the third, true option: A university is what we’ve been told it is all our lives—a place of learning. Here, we explore passions, interests and concerns with others. We learn, protest, create, explore and discover together. By this exploration, we truly become what we are—human beings who struggle to find our passions, and then follow them. We find mentors and friends to guide us along the way, so that by the time we graduate, we’re ready to fully participate in the world.
Mr. Hudlow’s amalgamation of functions that pretends to be a university does none of these things. It simply teaches you a few tools on the grounds that this will make you enough money, then you’ll be ready to move into the world without any care for one’s own mental health or identity.
Now, there are plenty of accounting, marketing and finance majors who I have great respect and admiration for. The difference is that unlike Mr. Hudlow, they study these pursuits as an extension of who they are. They followed their passions by choosing these majors, rather than reluctantly selecting one that would make the most money or please their parents (or both).
If someone decides after introspection and exploration to major in accounting, theology, physics, ethnic studies or yes, even “Feminist Dance Theory,” then they should, and we should encourage them. If they’re growing as people and becoming the best version of themselves, I promise, that is something you can’t put a price on (or shouldn’t even try to in the first place).
It is a challenge to look at the issue this way. And if we make the choice to reduce the greatest period of discovery in our young lives to a series of functions, then we have failed.
It will be our fault when years from now, Santa Clara alums are drawing six-figure sums but still asking the basic question, “Who am I truly?” All because they were driven from their passions by mindless advice telling them to play it safe instead of following their heart’s desires.
Gus Hardy is a senior Religious Studies and Political Science major.