Robison: The Cost of a Simpson Education Doesn’t Get You a Diploma

by Ben Robison/Guest Writer

$120,000. That’s a lot of money. 

The cost of a four-year education at Simpson College, including tuition and room and board is just over $120,000; that’s just a little over $30,000 a year.

Now, add to the $120,000 the cost of books and supplies.  Add in your parking tags. Now, add in lab fees.

If you are an athlete, it’s time to tally in the cost of your sport…shoes, cleats, apparel, equipment, special trip fees (if you get to go on one).  Finally, total up these costs and add in your general living expenses – the occasional impulse buy, the trip to Hy-Vee or Walmart, a pizza on Sunday and weekly trips to the Zoo Bar. With all of this, your glorious four years at Simpson is at an unfathomable cost.

I’m now in my senior year here at Simpson,and I have begun to look at the real world. I’m applying for jobs and looking for a place to live. Just last month, I received a detailed summary of my student loans and itemized payment options. It’s all coming very fast; the real world is suddenly approaching. I’ve had some time to reflect on my “Simpson Experience,” and the costs that have ensued. I don’t think I’m very happy about it.

I would venture to say that the bill for my Simpson Experience has totaled over $130,000.  Was it worth it?  I’m not sure yet. I did get a quality higher education to become a teacher and that’s what the purpose of the college is. I met some amazing people and made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I’ve done some serious networking, which I hope will help me in the long haul. In these facets, I suppose it was worth it.

Now that the real world is coming, I think, “What could I have done with that $130,000?”

In today’s world, $130,000 could buy a nice starter home in the Des Moines or Indianola area. I could have traveled around the world…maybe twice. I could have bought a brand new, fully loaded Land Rover Range Rover. I could have even profited on a stock market adventure and made millions on my $130,000.

Now, I know we are better off financially here at Simpson than some people are at other institutions. For instance, the cost of an education at the University of Notre Dame is well over $50,000 a year. And, for the most part, my financial aid package here was decent. But some don’t have that luxury.

Here’s the kicker. This is my problem with the cost of my Simpson Experience.  I have to pay to graduate. That’s right. I have to pay a fee to graduate.  I feel as if it is my right, after spending $130,000 to go through commencement. Shouldn’t that be included in that $130,000?  To be completely honest, I don’t even know what I get for my extra $75 “Graduation Fee.” 

Now, as you can tell, I’m a bit bitter about this Graduation Fee.  However, there is one thing that makes me angrier than anything. The diploma that we will receive in May is only 5 inches by 7 inches.  That’s the same size as my high school diploma.  In my mind this makes my bachelors degree no more important that my high school education.  If there is such an importance and honor in graduating from college, the diploma should be at least a full sheet of paper. I don’t even think that the 5-by-7 sheet is worthy of framing and hanging on my office wall.

I have worked hard for four years to get a decent grade point average, the respect of my professors and to get a decent job in the future.  I have paid a lot of money to live the Simpson Experience. In my opinion, I have earned the right to walk across that stage without cost and to receive a reputable, attractive diploma. Something needs to be changed.