Value of Education

by Ghani Kunto

Nick Enlow had placed his diploma from Purdue University on sale on EBay.  One of the reasons: the 2008 bachelor’s degree on psychology did not help him get a job that would cover his $470 monthly student-loan repayment.  Bidding started at $36,000. Full story.

An Expensive Proposition

As a parent, I worry about the rising cost of education as measured by its value.

In Jakarta, you could spend up to $2,000 in enrollment fees, plus $200 monthly fees for kindergarten.  That’s for kindergarten! This, in a city with an average household income of around $300 per month, is a cringe-inducing fact.

Don’t even mention elementary and junior high schools.  If you want your child to go a top International School, be ready to fork out $2,000 a month.  I don’t even want to think about the enrollment fee.  If International School is out of the budget, you might want to consider “internationally recognized” schools, maybe ones with a National Plus certification, which will set you back only $400-$600 a month.

So is a $2,000 a month education at an international school 100 times more valuable than the $20 month education your child could get at a public high school?

The aforementioned Nick Enlow seemed to compare the value of education dollar to dollar against the monetary return on investment.  Undoubtedly, he is not the only person who uses this measuring stick.  Some universities brag about the higher than average income that their graduates make.

Using a similar measurement, some universities promote how easy it is for their graduates to get a job after graduation.  This is fear-based marketing, and considering how often we hear in the news about the high number of unemployed university graduates in Indonesia, the tactic proofs to be effective.

I’d measure the value of educational by the kind of friends I make.  Sure, high-tech labs, Olympic-size swimming pools, and a golf course would be nice, but I’d be more willing to fork out even more money for my child’s education if she’ll be able to make friends with the right kind of people, the kind who can propel her higher intellectually, forward economically, and deeper spiritually.

But that’s all at a university level.  How about high school? Or elementary school? Or even preschools, where if you get a Montessori education, you’d be more like the royal family of England, or P.  Diddy.

A Degree in Self Knowledge

A friend once pointed out that an obsession with certification is indicative of shallow self-knowledge.

“We’re such strangers to ourselves, that we wouldn’t trust our own measurements.  We need others to tell us whether we’re good or not,” he said.

But these letters after my name, they must be worth something, right?

How much?

Enlow left it to the market to decide.

So, if you had to put a dollar sign and some numbers for the value of the education that you’ve received, how much would it be?