Over the summer, the cost of one year at Bowdoin surpassed the median household income in the United States. This staggering statistic makes apparent what many of us already understand: sending a child to college is a huge sacrifice.
Yet here we are, and most of us have our families to thank.
There are a number of ways to understand where our tuition goes. Although the $50,920 average cost of attendance is made up of a number of different components, most of us don't think in such fragmented terms. Instead, we tend to understand tuition as the cost of an entire experience. On one end, people understand tuition as the price tag of a Bowdoin diploma—something that will grant access to opportunities in the future. At the other end, Bowdoin's tuition can be thought to fund four years of a rich learning and growing experience. No matter where students and their parents fall on this spectrum, one thing is clear: These years at Bowdoin will change us forever.
The cost of Bowdoin is steep, and it would not make sense to pay for it simply for a monetary return. If families saw college solely as a financial investment, it may have been more logical to send their child to another college that was cheaper or paid for by merit-based scholarship. However, those who are paying for Bowdoin must believe that students here are gaining more than an impressive addition to a resume.
Higher education is a privilege, and one like Bowdoin's is an extraordinary privilege. Although personal accomplishments in high school may have earned us admission to the College, most of us have more than ourselves to thank for being here. Besides just helping to foot the bill, many of our families provide incredible moral support for our academic and extracurricular pursuits.
During our time at college, we're not necessarily contributing much to the larger society. We don't always have much to show for ourselves. We may find it difficult to explain, or even to understand, the importance of our passions, academic and otherwise. Yet, many of our families have faith that what we're doing here is worthwhile. They give us room to explore, even when our destination is unclear. What's more, they don't expect anything in return.
So, thank you, to our families, for seeing the value in giving us four years of space to explore and to learn.The editorial represents the majority view of The Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which comprises Nick Day, Nat Herz, Mary Helen Miller, and Cati Mitchell.