Hendrix Magazine

A Message from the President

Liberal arts education adds value to the world

The cost of higher education is top-of-mind for many right now. Many see escalating cost as a barrier to access, another reason that climbing into the middle class is becoming an elusive dream for many families. State legislatures, the U.S. Congress, and presidential candidates express concern that escalating cost is eroding American leadership in higher education.

We are concerned too. We’re concerned that students might write off higher education as inaccessible and not take advantage of the ways that Hendrix and other private liberal arts colleges can help make college affordable. Most of all, we’re concerned that the focus on cost might obscure the critical importance and value of higher education. Going "away" to college is a life-changing, opportunity-expanding experience. It is not – and should not become – simply a financial transaction.

But, if you want to talk about numbers, consider these:

  • 66% is how much more college graduates earn than high school graduates over a 40-year career.
  • 19% of Hendrix students qualify for Pell Grants; 100% receive some form of financial aid.
  • 87% of students at national liberal arts colleges graduate in four years or less, compared to 57% at the top 50 public universities.
  • 60% of national liberal arts graduates believe they are better prepared for life after college than graduates of other colleges, rating their alma mater as "highly effective" at helping them attain their first job, gain admission to graduate school, and preparing them for career changes and advancement.

A college education is transformational. It is the first step in a life-long journey. Transformation happens when students are challenged to consider many perspectives, to develop a point of view, and to communicate their views. It happens when students work closely with faculty who are devoted to teaching and mentoring. It happens through hands-on learning experiences, such as internships, international study, service and research. It happens in a residential college setting where students encounter differences and learn to live together in a community.

Students transformed by an engaged liberal arts and sciences education are ready for the world. They know how to think critically and creatively and how to communicate clearly. They celebrate diversity. They solve problems. They can learn and work collaboratively. And they can lead. They know the joy of discovering their passions and how fulfilling it is to follow their dreams.

Actor. Artist. CEO. Doctor. Lawyer. Minister. Musician. Physician. Scientist. Teacher. Writer. Hendrix graduates lead successful careers in a variety of fields. They could have been trained anywhere. But they were transformed here.

Yes, we’re concerned about the cost of college. But we’re even more concerned about a world without young people transformed by ideas and values like artistic expression, active citizenship, ethics, and scientific discovery. These classical ideals are the cornerstone for civilized society, and they are critical for a contemporary world.

I ask that you advocate life-changing liberal arts experiences to others who think higher education is just a numbers game.