I had an interesting discussion with my mom the other day — which is nothing new. We were discussing the crisis in modern higher education and the benefits of good, rock-solid schools like Christendom College. I’ll start off by admitting that I’m biased towards Christendom, although having done my research on other Catholic colleges, I do have support for my bias. But this post isn’t going to be solely about Christendom — I’m going to attempt to speak generally.

I won’t try to dance around the opinion I’m about to present. Going to a solid Catholic college is worth it.

I’m not going to condemn kids who choose to go to secular institutions of higher education. It’s not my place to judge. There are perfectly good reasons for attending a private secular or state school. I’m also not going to go into all the benefits of attending a Catholic college. That is material for ten or twelve posts. (I will say, however, that going to a solid Catholic college meant that the phrase “being sexiled from your room” was not in my vocabulary at college. It may not be a new term, but I just recently heard it, and thought of all my friends who have found themselves in that uncomfortable situation… and I thanked God that my roommate issues were never quite like that…) This post, rather, will merely touch on one of the biggest objections I hear about Catholic higher education: We can’t afford it.

Again, I’m not condemning anyone who says this. Everyone knows their situation in life and everyone knows what they can or cannot afford. I was blessed to be in the situation where my family could afford it. However, I think the cost issue needs to be seen in clearer light.

I think that state discounts, family and friends discounts, etc, mask the reality of how much college actually costs. Obviously, state schools receiving government aid are going to be able to offer much lower prices. A private school, not willing to accept government aid — and the government intervention that comes with it — is going to have to charge much more for tuition. In addition, what a school charges for tuition is much lower than the true cost of the education, which means private schools have to rely heavily on alumni support and other generous donors — just to keep the lights on and the heat going.

The low cost of a government-funded education at a state school (especially for state residents) makes the cost of tuition at other schools seem exorbitant, when really it isn’t even enough to really pay for the education provided.

So you can go to college for a lot less than what you would pay for a Catholic education. But let’s remember what we’re paying for with this money… is it a loaf of bread, that I can either get at either the corner bakery or at Wal-Mart for significantly cheaper? An oil change for my car that’s cheaper with this coupon? A plane-ticket that’s part of an airline’s summer deal? Papertowels, that are cheaper when I buy three rolls instead of one?

No! This isn’t an item to buy for the best deal, at the lowest seller. This is an education!

I remember being really proud of myself for buying a sweater from a low-end retailer. I patted myself on the back for saving so much money. The first time I washed it, the thing shrank in some places, stretched in others, and pilled up all over. Suddenly, the great buy I was so proud of was money down the drain.

Often, the same people who say they Catholic education is too expensive are the people who complain when they have to listen to garbage in class. When they waste class time on group therapy sessions about how reading some gay-porn novel made them feel. When they are given bad grades because they write objective truths in their papers. When they have to constantly question what they’re learning. When they are ridiculed by their professors for belief in God.

Well, you paid for it. You paid for that ridicule. You paid for that uncertainty in what you were learning. You paid for that unjust grade. You paid to read that gay-porn novel

Most — not all, but most– institutions of higher education are not spending time and money to educate you. More often than not, they’re agenda-pushing. I’ve heard countless stories of professors standing up in class and spouting off liberal rhetoric under the guise of “teaching.” That is, if you’re lucky to have a professor. Many college students don’t lay eyes on the prestigious, high-paid tenured professors until they’ve had their fill of TAs. Why are the professors being paid if it’s not to spend quality time with you (or your son or daughter) in the classroom, truly caring about your intellectual pursuits and desires?

And why are you paying tuition for this? Why are you paying for an education you don’t want? Wouldn’t you rather pay a little more and get the exact opposite? Wouldn’t you rather be edified in the classroom, rather than frustrated? Wouldn’t you rather hear the truth rather than a platform? Wouldn’t you rather have a professor who cares about you instead of one that doesn’t know you exist?

Perhaps this is when I should qualify my statements from the broad “Catholic school” to the narrower “Christendom College.” I cannot speak for the educational substance and challenge of other schools, nor can I say for certain that you will get professors that are willing to talk about Aristotle over lunch at other solid Catholic schools. But I’d being willing to bet on it.

As the quote goes, If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. You can go to college for cheap… but don’t come to me, complaining about the quality.