Do you know how to think?

Domestic tabby cat with eyeglasses on a white background.

It seems as though higher education is fighting a never-ending battle these days to justify its own existence. It’s ironic, and perhaps a little disconcerting, that in a culture where everyone wants to be their best and to accomplish great and wonderful things, people feel this can be done without education.

Let’s be brutally honest. Is this going to be a pro-education blog post? Of course. It would be moderately inane for me to say otherwise, given the rather obvious fact that I work in higher education. But if I may continue to be brutally honest, education is ALWAYS worth it … ALWAYS … in whatever form that education takes.

In a recent blog post The Evolllution outlined five trends that are affecting higher education. The top spot on the list is, of course, cost. There are growing concerns about the cost of earning a college degree and whether or not the price tag is worth the reward.

The short answer is, “Yes, It’s worth it.”

Of course, you would expect me to say that. But as the cost continues to rise, what are the benefits … especially for a liberal arts education like you receive at Wayland.

I recently had a conversation with someone (in her 40s) who said she finally understood the value of a liberal arts education. In simple conversation with others, it was easy to crack jokes that draw on social, cultural and historical concepts. The difference comes in being able to understand the humor ‑- to draw from a broad-based education to correlate meaning based on constructs that are not otherwise taught or learned. Now this is a simplistic look at the value because not all of us are capable of cracking jokes … or understanding them. But the idea is that a broad education base gives you a greater understanding of your world and why thinks function the way they do.

It’s a simple illustration, but it proves a larger point. A strong education, especially a strong liberal arts education, goes a long way in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. These are the same skills sought after by business and industry leaders.

In a 2015 article in U.S. News, Patrick Maggitti says, “I’ve become convinced that creative problem-solving is the most important attribute for success after graduation, indeed for any employee, and it is a combination of three skills: critical thinking, the ability to analyze data and make good decisions and the ability to challenge the status quo.”

Of critical thinking skills, Maggitti says, “This questioning, learning about different disciplines and diverse work experience helps students and workers to look at the world through a multifaceted lens and better solve problems.”

TalentLens conducted a survey of 400 senior human resource professionals and found that critical thinking is the No. 1 skill needed by employers. You can read the whole study here.

One Wayland alum told a story of how she acquired a management position in a hotel in Las Vegas. With a general business administration degree from Wayland, she was hired ahead of student who had degrees in hotel management from other schools. When asked why she was hired ahead of them, her bosses responded that they knew she would be able to deal with more constituents on a multi-faceted level because of her liberal arts background. … Food for thought?

And while the cost of a college education will prove to be worth it (a 15% return on investment), you should also know that an education at Wayland Baptist University is a great value. Wayland offers all the quality of a private, faith-based education at an affordable price. We know education is expensive and the pursuit of a degree is a huge investment of time and resources. When shopping for a college or university we encourage you to do the research and compare the cost, then determine your best course of action.

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About the author: Jonathan Petty holds degrees in communications and management. He currently serves as the director of communications for Wayland Baptist University.