Making WU worth it

| Staff Columnist

Most people would generally agree that college tuition is expensive. We might even nod our heads to affirm that our college is more expensive than most. Even with the financial aid packages, the amount due every semester is by no means puny. Before starting another semester, with some unavoidable immediate reluctance, I clicked the “Pay Now” button, allowing a bountiful sum of my parents’ money to go to Wash. U.’s coffers once again.

In retrospect, I ascribe the reluctance to something more than the sheer amount that makes tuition stand out. Tuition differs from other types of payments also in that what we receive in return depends mostly on us. I know I get a pen in return for $3, a simple transaction. Provided that I use it, it is worth the $3. It’s easy to make it worth the money, but even if I don’t, the loss is small. Tuition is a five-digit dollar amount—something I cannot afford to let slip away—and yet it is tough for me to extract its worth. That was the source of my reluctance.

I’ve heard many times that college is not just about academics, but academics is what college offers that other places do not. That is what distinguishes universities in the end. If not for that, colleges wouldn’t ask for huge amounts of money. Out-of-class activities can add valuable experiences. Rests, weekend night parties or “having fun” in general can also help improve work efficiency. Yet, several tens of thousands of dollars need not be paid to load life with activities and certainly not with parties, rest or light pleasure. There must be better places for those. As soon as these start to victimize academics, the already submitted college tuition becomes a waste. Though everyone can and should occasionally relax, with a life cycle leaning toward leniency, one has no excuse to complain about what it costs to attend the school.

I don’t think I am paying the tuition money to spend my time with easy work, but rather to work more and harder—to challenge my comfort zone in academics, be pressured and learn things the hard way if necessary. That is ultimately what I came here to do. There is a way to make our tuition worth it. Earnest work stemming from a desire to learn is the first step, but we can also take more classes. Loading up credits is an unpopular idea as it brings up vague worries about miserable semesters, but misery doesn’t have to be the inevitable outcome depending on what priority one’s mind is drawn to. Being busy with a purpose can be rewarding, healthy and fun, even. There is nothing to lose for giving it a try. You can prove that the worry about misery was just a rumor in the air. With class registration still up for changes, take it into consideration.

College has almost become a rite of passage in society, at least in the middle to upper classes. But it doesn’t have to be, because colleges still ask for tuition, and they provide things that not too many other places do. This is particularly true of a school like Wash. U. While being here, we might as well try challenging ourselves further and extract more from the opportunity and the tuition by taking advantage of what this place can uniquely offer. If anyone else also felt reluctance when clicking the payment button, this is a way to legitimately feel better about paying and about ourselves and to make Wash. U. as valuable as possible.

Finally, if we can manage it, in the course of pushing ourselves more, we might have the option of graduating early. For those ready for it, an early graduation happens to save a semester’s or a year’s worth of tuition on top of providing a head start into other desires we might want to pursue—a win-win.

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