Invest In Me (#investinme) – A reply to Virginia21

Today Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell tweeted “Students w/ @Virginia21 brought 10K signatures to GA with message for higher ed: #investinme — watch on @NBC29

Virginia21 is an organization of college “kids” who want the Commonwealth to “invest” in them.  So I watched their 15-minute video to see what they had to say.

Mind you – I favor a college education <b>for those who are interested, and who can accept the intellectual rigor</b> (sometimes) <b>found in academic programs</b>. No matter my personal opinion of the value of some degrees; I’m treating all students alike in this post.

Every student should understand some basic concepts.  One shouldn’t get to college without knowing them:

– People make “investments” with the expectation of receiving some personal benefit.  Some believe a benefit to society is a personal benfit.

– People usually make “investments” with no <b>guarantee</b> of return.

– Those who are “frightened” of an investment will avoid it, mitigate it, or accept the fright as a learning experience.

– Investors have a variety of choices.  They select those where they believe the outcome will be worth the cost.

– Choices have consequences.

– Negotiation is a part of life.

So, let’s talk.  Why should I invest in you? No, not a group of “kids” – or even young adults – YOU.  What’s your end of the bargain?

Will you agree to remain in Virginia – or to pay Virginia taxes anyway – for 10 years after graduation?  Will you agree to work for Virginia-based companies, or to add another percentage point to the loan for its life if you don’t? Will you agree to pay Virginia income taxes no matter where you live and work? Will you agree to take any work for which you are physically capable and which doesn’t cost you more than you earn?  Can you answer “yes” to at least one of these – can you make it worth the taxpayers’ money?

You see, I didn’t hear any of that in your speeches today.  I didn’t hear “invest in me and I’ll return xxx to Virginia.”  I didn’t hear anything but vague promises of economic prosperity – politician words.

I heard individual issues.

One student said after parental contributions, jobs and loans there are “no other options.”  That may be true, if he included grants in with loans, if he accounted for scholarships, and if somehow he accounted for part-time education, delayed education, 0r military service (that carries with it an education benefit).

One student, perhaps the same one (I listened; I didn’t watch) said it’s “frightening” to know that jobs are scarce and income is not promised, while he has massive student-loan debt.  Welcome to adulthood.

Face it.  There have been better times to enter adulthood, and there have been worse.  It’s not personal; no one’s out to “get” today’s young people.  You live in a world of challenges.  If you can’t face the first, what makes you think you’ll face others without appealing to someone else to bail you out?

What are you investing?  Your time and brainpower?  If you want the degree, you’ll do that anyway.  Is the outcome worth the cost to you?  If not, why are you there?  If you can’t articulate what the degree will do for you AND FOR SOCIETY, don’t expect society to get generous.

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