What’s the cost of discovering the meaning of your life?

University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler today pretty much said tuition at the University of Minnesota will increase because a higher education bill isn’t enough to maintain a tuition freeze at the U.

“Minnesota students and their families deserve more consideration at a time of significant state budget surplus,” Kaler said in a statement. “We have done our part to lessen the need for increased tuition revenue by reducing administrative costs by $39 million this biennium, with a plan to reduce an additional $30 million next biennium.”

This should spark another round of debate about whether the cost of a college degree is worth it.

And that’s why a blog post today is worth considering.

Jon Bruns, who writes at My Greenest Kingdom, is a stay-at-home dad, now that he’s retired from a 10-year higher education career.

He acknowledges he’s had a taste of the higher education Kool Aid, but he raises a good question as he relays wisdom he’s given to seniors who are about to head to the working world. How exactly are we to judge “worth it”?

I told them that what my education provided me, above anything else, was the opportunity to create my own definition of success. It was the individual-oriented, whole-life development experience that I had, which was a byproduct of the close friendships and the authentic personal & professional mentors I was able to develop. This education showed me how to examine my life and decided ultimately what was important to me. It help me objectively ask the important questions like, “what the hell am I doing, and is it what I want to be spending all of my time on?” It gave me the background to answer those questions in a thoughtful and educated manner, and ultimately decide it was personally time for a change, even if that meant forgoing a paycheck.

This was not by chance either, but more by design, as the college I attended describes itself as a place that emphasizes “leadership and a personal development profile that includes intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical development.” No doubt a lot of colleges and universities use a similar tagline to promote their institutions, but I feel the education I received really lives up to that. In the most recent alumni magazine I received, the current President, also an alum (and an economist), opines that the education one receives at our alma mater is “as much about the formation of character and the search for meaning as about academics”, providing “a solid foundation to help young men seeking to develop their moral understanding and find meaning in their lives.”

He acknowledges he won’t be realizing the economic potential of a college degree, but he says the point of a degree is to “challenge you to lead an engaged and thoughtful life. To question what is important to you and where you find fulfillment. To have the bravery and courage to put those things first in your life.”

Now, who wants to put a price on discovering your meaning of life?

(h/t: Sam Pokorney)