As I’ve met with many groups and spoken at various functions over the past few months, I have often found a concern among a variety of audiences, particularly with students and prospective students. The concern is about the importance of a college education and what the value of a college education is given the current state of the economy and the difficult job market. As Dean of George Mason University School of Management, I have experienced first hand the benefits of education, and would like to share my personal thoughts on this topic in hopes that it will provide others with encouragement and comfort during these tough times.
A college education is meant to prepare the student for more than a job. It prepares the student for lifelong learning. It gives students the skills to learn how to teach themselves and the ability to see opportunities and challenges from many perspectives, not just the one way in which they grow accustomed. Education increases the students’ capacity to learn and shows their commitment to advancement and dedication to their chosen field. An education increases job prospects and earnings potential. It builds a support system through faculty, colleagues, and alumni—expanding their network. A college education will open doors that would not be open for you without an education.
Each person is a unique individual. No one thinks the way you think. No one sees a situation the way you see it. It is a unique way in which you will be able to make a difference in the world, and it is a unique way in which you will look at life. Life continually changes and presents different challenges and opportunities; an education allows you to shape and reshape your unique perspective in life to respond to these changes, not only now, but throughout your lifetime.
Although we all will face difficult times in our lives, education is something you earn that will always stay with you. A college education is a gateway to the world, but it is up to you to cross through and make the most of the opportunity Thus, it takes commitment, it takes vision, and it takes risk.