Higher Ed worth the investment? Agnes Scott College president Elizabeth Kiss: ‘Yes’

College is a worthy investment that will pay dividends throughout a graduate’s career, the president of Agnes Scott College told an Atlanta civic organization on Thursday.

Dr. Elizabeth Kiss
Dr. Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott College, addresses the Buckhead Business Association. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

ATLANTA, January 30, 2015 — College is a worthy investment that will pay dividends throughout a graduate’s career, the president of Agnes Scott College told an Atlanta civic organization on Thursday.

Speaking before the Buckhead Business Association (BBA), Dr. Elizabeth Kiss rebutted a number of recent reports questioning the investment in a college education. She insisted a college education will pay dividends throughout a graduate’s career.

“There just seems to be this whole sort of drumbeat questioning the value of college,” Kiss told the audience gathered at the City Club of Buckhead. “People are very concerned about soaring college costs, they’re concerned about student debt. And, there was even a gentleman out in Silicon Valley who offered to invest in students if they skipped college and they wanted to just go ahead and start a company.”

Kiss acknowledged a number of famous entrepreneurs — ranging from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg — who actually dropped out of college. But, the liberal arts college president said, a college education is critical for today’s students, enabling them to learn skills that will help them succeed as productive members of society.

“This stuff drives me crazy,” Kiss said. “Not to say that if you’re a genius and you don’t need to go to college, that’s totally fine. But, for us mere mortals, college is critical. In fact, college is probably one of the very best investments … that anybody can make in themselves or in their children or in their community.… The truth is you learn more, you earn more.”

Kiss acknowledged the cost of a college education is rising and that students are increasingly graduating with debt. The average student debt for a graduating college student is about $27,000, she said.

“That’s not negligible,” Kiss said. “But you know what, that’s kind of what you pay for a car. And your college education increases in value over the course of your lifetime.”

When asked, during a question and answer session following her remarks, about the often-perceived ideological slant of many college campuses, Kiss said she wants students to be exposed to diverse perspectives.

“For institutions of higher education to be true incubators of rigorous thought, you have to have diversity of views,” Kiss told the audience. “It’s really, really important for students to be exposed to and engaged with diverse views. Because if you’re in an echo chamber, whether a progressive, liberal or conservative echo chamber, it’s not going to lead to good thought.”

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