Good or Bad Debt: Higher Education?

Lets be honest the value of a higher education degree will always be debatable. I remember when I entered undergrad in 2004 it seemed like everyone was receiving a bachelor’s degree, so it was inevitable that I would pursue my master’s degree to eventually distinguish myself in the job market. I took exactly two years off before I entered graduate school in New York.

It took me eighteen months after walking across the stage at Radio City Music Hall in May 2012 with my masters degree to receive a job worth the blood, sweat, tears, and my first child that I gave to a major private university to find a job directly aligned with my passion for service-learning and education reform. Was it worth it? Of course! I wouldn’t trade a moment of the 18 month journey it took me to complete my beloved MA in Educational Leadership.

Was the debt worth it? Absolutely! I literally own this degree (and the school owns me for another 10 years), but would I have done it for a fraction (or none at all) of the cost? YES!! Yet, for me this was a “good” debt that I was willing to take on to further my career. It was well worth it!

This video by EncounterBooks on the Glen Harlan Reynolds’ Higher Education Bubble looks into the dwindling value of higher education in America. They even compare it to the housing crisis in the mid 2000s with the ever-increasing cost of higher education. Regardless, you know your value and what you are willing to do to ensure you reach your career dreams and goals.

Here’s what I do know: to become a lifelong learner you have to advocate and invest in yourself first!

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My Educational Belief: Service-Learning

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My professional platform is a teaching and learning method: Service-Learning (SL). SL is a process where students learn and develop through active participation in the learning process. This teaching style provides meaningful community service activities that relate to academic subject content that students are learning in the classroom.

The distinction between community service and service learning can be described as: providing direct service to address an immediate need of the community, by serving food at a homeless shelter once a week and service-learning, serving food at a homeless shelter once a week and advocating with homeless families for the creation of more transitional housing and social service programs that ties to identifying a social problem and developing practical solutions. In addition service learning has a reflection component that students (and the community) to complete as it relates to the theories they learn in class. The reflection process allows the students to process whether their learned theory supports or negates what they accomplished through practice.

I chose Service-Learning as my professional platform because I feel strongly that students need to be reengaged in the learning process. Amdist the standards movement and the consistently changing “education movement” the foundation of learning and developing both cognitive and social skills to be active citizens has been lost. Reengaging students in the joy of learning and grasping knowledge that can empower them to change their immediate surroundings is crucial if we are to become a globally competitive country.

Here’s what I do know: incorporating the teaching and learning method of service-learning into the K-12 education curriculum, as it is already being used in multiple higher-education disciplines, would only benefit our students learning and expose them to non-traditional means of learning through service.