The Costs of Education…..Continued

I have to give a nod of thanks to ChaliceChick for bringing in Law (and implicitly, medicine) when talking about the costs of education. I purposefully didn’t bring up Law and Medicine because I know that there are people who read this blog who can talk about those much better than I can.  

How did I come up with the $64,000 on the low end for undergraduate studies?  As I said, I used the University of Missouri as my example. At Mizzou, for in-state students the cost for classes is $245.60 per credit hour.  Now let’s assume that the typical student will take 24 hours in an academic year.  That means that tuition is $5,894.40.  This is before fees.  The biggests fees are the Recreational Facility fee, the Student Activity fee, the Information Tech fee (which is charged by the number of credit hours a student is taking), and the Prepaid Health fee (which is charged to all students taking more than 6 hours). There are other smaller fees and this does not count the fees associated with particular classes  like I mentioned in the first post. 

But focus on the fact that tuition, before fees, for 24 hours is almost $6,000. On the face of it that is not particularly bad, but that’s before fees.  And don’t forget that if a student is going to take a course in certain departments (business, music, journalism, etc.), there are more fees to be paid. So it could EASILY become that tuition and fees alone would take you to over $7,000. And the costs of housing and food and washing clothes haven’t been added yet.

So right now we’re at $7,000.

Let’s add in housing and food.

If a student wants to stay at a renovated dorm (and there are only 5 not renovated, and they will eventually be renovated), the cost is $4,845 if that student shares a room.

$7,000 + $4,845= $11,845.  And food hasn’t been added.

So we’re $155 away from $12,000.

Time to add in food.

There are a choice of meal plans. The basic plans range from $1,960 to $3,440. This all depends on the number of meals one gets in a week.  Assume that the student picks either 17 meals a week or 21 meals a week.  If the student picks 17 meals the price is $3,110. If the student picks 21 meals the price is $3,440.

$11,845 + $3,110(17 meals)= $14,955.          or          $11,845 + $3,440(21 meals)= $15,285.

So we’re looking at either right at $15,000 or at $15,300.

This, my friends, does not include books or washing clothes (or even getting home for breaks). So let’s add those in.

Most schools tell students to expect to pay about $1,000 for books in a year.

That makes it: $14,955 + $1,000= $15,955          or          $15,285 + $1,000= $16,285.

Now, add in washing clothes.  On my financial aid form they give the amount of $300 for incidentials. So that’s the number we’ll use for this.

That makes it: $15,955 + $300= $16,255          or          $16,285 + $300= $16,585.

For 4 years the totals will be: $16,255 x 4= $65,020          or          $16,585 x 4= $66,340.

This is at the University of Missouri. Not the most expensive state school out there. And the total is only if the student takes 24 hours in a year. And that none of those classes are a business class, a journalism class and so forth.

Now if we’re talking about somewhere between $64,000 and $68,000 for a state college, what does this say?  And this is only for undergraduate education. We all know graduate education is always more expensive.

UUs talk so much about social justice, where is the UU outrage at the costs of education in this country?

More later…….I’m sure.

The Costs of Education…..Theological and Otherwise

With Jan. 1 (the official start of the 2009-2010 financial aid season) rapidly approaching, I thought this was a good time to talk about money.  And since I have a cousin who is a senor in high school this year I decided to take a trip around the internet and look at the costs of higher education. Let’s take a quick check of the prices of some schools.

At the University of Missouri the costs for a year of school is roughly $16,000 for undergrads. This, of course, does not include the fees that are associated with taking a music class, a journalism class, an agriculture class, an engineering class, or a business class. Or being in a Teacher Ed. field placement.

Earlham costs $40,844 a year.

Hampshire costs $47,869 a year. 

Berea (if students paid tuition) costs $30,512 a year.

And let’s not talk about graduate programs.

But I will talk about seminaries. All of these costs are tuition and fees only.

Starr King is roughly $12,000 a year.

Meadville is $1,400 per credit.  $1,500 if the person is in the modified residency program.

Eden Theological is $11,600 a year.

Harvard is $24,940 a year.

Andover-Newton is roughly $11,500 a year.

United (in the Twin Cities) is roughly $10,500 a year.

Drew is $14,578 a year.

So let’s do a little calculation. Four years as an undergrad can range anywhere from $64,000 on the low end to $200,000+.

If one wants to go to seminary the prices range from roughly $30,000+ to $80,000+; of course this assumes that the person is going to do it in 3 years. If you add a 4th year (which seems to be the average) then you’re looking at $40,000+ to $100,000+. And this doesn’t add in having a place to sleep, eat, and being able to wash clothes.

So is it any wonder that people are choosing high-pay professions?  When you’re walking out of undergrad with unimaginable debt loads (even from a state school), how can you encourage people to go into professions (teaching, social work, etc.) where the pay isn’t that good yet the impact may be immeasurable?

I’ll end it here for now. More later.

When Nude Is Not Your Color

Bah humbug all. I’m not a Christmas person (Ash Wednesday, Lent and Good Friday are much more interesting and important to me), so during this holiday lull, I thought I would write about the things that have absolutely nothing to do with religion or politics. So I’ll do this first post about shopping.

I’m looking to buy a few clothes before I head back to Indiana. And, as most women know, at some point when looking at clothes one has to look at their intimate apparel.

One of the things I hadn’t thought about in a while is the naming of colors. And I think of it even less when shopping for clothes because for one company “bisque” could be an orange but for another company “bisque” could be a yellow.

“Nude” is a different story.  Across the board it seems to be the same shade of beige. Yet it doesn’t match my skin tone at all. Or my mother’s. Or most of the women that I know. We get words like “coffee” or “toffee”.  And sometimes “suntan” will match those of lighter brown skin tones.

So what should one do when “nude” is not your color? And why haven’t fashion designers become as enlightened as cosmetics companies and expanded their selection of skin-toned colors?

A Few Books To Encourage You In National Buy A Book By A Black Author and Give It To Somebody Not Black Month

As I said in my last post, I came across this opinion piece in yesterday’s Washington Post. The one comment asked for recommendations of books. So I thought I would do a short list of books by black authors that might be of interest.

Douglass’ Women and Voodoo Season by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley (of Easy Rawlins fame)

Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due

Cane River and Red River by Lalita Tademy

The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke (Carribean author and set in the Carribean)

What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage

This is a list to just get started. If you know someone who is into particular genre fiction (romance, horror, etc.) there are authors in those genres that I can point you to. 


In Defense of Rick Warren pt. 2

I knew I was going to be in the minority among UUs when it came to not having a problem with Rick Warren delivering the invocation at the Inauguration. Hell….I’m already a minority in UUism 2 ways so there’s nothing new there.

Here’s the question; is this uproar because this is Rick Warren? Or would it have happened with any minister who was anti-choice and against gay marriage?

Next question……who gets to determine who gets to speak at a particular ceremony? Would you allow Rick Warren to do the invocation anywhere?

Here’s a scenario……..if I am ever lucky enough to be ordained there are two people I would want to be part of my ordination service. Both of them are against gay marriage. One of them is really anti-choice. Are you saying that I shouldn’t have them as part of my service? At what point does personal relationship trump people’s ideology.

Now back to the Inauguration…..there have been both racists and anti-Semetic ministers who have given the invocation. Anti-gay-rights ministers too. Anti-non-believers too. (And let’s not act as if there haven’t been U/U/UU ministers that fit in those categories.) How many people remember who gave the invocation the next day? And how much outrage is being used against a symbol rather than the actual problem?

I don’t think it’s wrong to voice displeasure at the choice. I think that the way the displeasure is being voiced will not get you heard. There are ways to talk to allies/friends about the hard issues in a way that does not make continuing the conversation impossible.

I don’t know if that makes any sense. I might try again later.

In Defense of Rick Warren

The progressive uproar over President-Elect Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to do the invocation at the Inauguration shows why we are seen as kooks by so many and will remain so unless we change.

Now let me say my bias at the outset, I would have preferred that President-Elect Obama had chosen Rev. Jeremiah Wright to do the invocation as a way of healing the rift in that relationship, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

But, my progressive friends, this is a PRAYER. This is not an appointment to a commission or a place in the government. Get over it!

Yes….Rick Warren supported Prop. 8, but it seems like a lot of people supported Prop. 8 or it wouldn’t have passed. Yes….Rick Warren is anti-choice, but so are a lot of other people.  Yet this is the same Rick Warren that has done so much to help those with AIDS on the continent of Africa and spoken out about the genocide in Darfur.  Saddleback also has many community programs that do good in So. California.  When did progressives stop understanding that people are truly multifaceted? That they can hold beliefs that cross ends of the spectrum?

Have progressives learned nothing from the Civil Rights Movement?  If nothing else should have been learned then this should have been….you have to start where people are; not where you hope they were.  If you continue to demonize those who oppose you then you won’t get anywhere.  Only by talking and genuine listening do things change.

Now what’s better……a Rick Warren that religious progressives can sit down and talk with or a Rick Warren who fights you on every turn no matter what he thinks or believes on an issue?  When President-Elect Obama said that he wanted to be the President of the United States, what did you think that meant; only the part of the U.S. that agreed with him? Or that he was truly interested in having dialogue with people from all sides of an issue?

Cut the President-Elect a break, this is a PRAYER.  As the President-Elect has said, “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

The Seven-Day-A-Week Church, or Still Trying to Answer the Question

I am so thankful that ChaliceChick is taking the time out of her day to write comments on my posts; they are making me articulate what I feel about Adult Religious Education  in a way that other people can understand.

If one looks at the churches that are really growing, most of them are seven-day-a-week churches (or something close to). What do I mean by seven-day-a-week? I mean that there is something going on at the church every day.  And most of what is going on is not children’s activities.

The question that ChaliceChick posed to me though was, “But isn’t it a sign of religious maturity not to necessarily NEED a structured class, but to learn this stuff because you’re interested?”  Maybe.  However I do think that structured classes for ADULTS are necessary for churches to grow.  Even more importantly, I think that the best way to be exposed to different SPIRITUAL PRACTICES (lectio divinia, body prayer, different types of journaling, examen, etc.) is through a structured class. What one does after that is up to the person.

I read the book The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor a couple of weeks ago for class.  In the section where she talks about scripture Taylor says that people continued to say that they wanted to know more about the Bible so she would offer classes about scripture but they were lightly attended.  But when she started having classes about applied theology or on spiritual practices, there would be plenty of people in those classes.  This is why I so big on structured classes.  Plenty of people are yearning for a time set aside for learning and exploring these things yet many UU churches are not offering them anything other than the 10:30 am worship service on Sunday morning.

Something about this must change. It cannot be all about the children (what about those people who don’t want to work with the children’s program? shouldn’t there be something for them too?).  Churches that are growing have strong children’s programs AND strong educational and other small group programs for adults. And as long as UU churches keep treating children as the be-all-and-end-all in the church, there will continue to be a revolving door when it comes to the adults.

I know that I’m still not answering the question well.  I’ll try again later.

Beyond ‘Building Your Own Theology’, or Trying to Answer the Question

ChaliceChick asks me to further comment on what I said in my last post, “it’s the adults that are not fully engaged in the ongoing spiritual development that is required to be a mature person.”  I’ll see if I can give that line justice.

Part of the reason I said that is that I think there is so much focus on children’s RE  in UUism that there seems to be this thinking that all religious identity is formed by the time somebody is 14.  So much of life happens after 14 that I think UUism misses out on helping adults of all ages deal with the rest of life well.

If you take a look, you will see that the adult programs person in the office of Lifespan Faith Development is vacant. Take a look at the curricula for adult faith development available through the UUA bookstore; not spirituality books for adults to read, but actual curricula.  Not that many. (Yes…I know that there is a new one out there called Tapestry, but it’s not on the UUA bookstore site)  Where are the curricula that deal with the big issues in life……death (not talking about grief support groups, but actual theories and theologies of death and dying)……partnership (theologies of coupling)……aging….and so forth?

Where are the curricula that give people an in-depth[not cursory] knowledge of the 500+ year history of U/U/UU?…..because far too many UUs seem to think this movement came up whole-cloth in 1961.  If you want to build UU identity, then it helps to know where one comes from.

UUs do an ok job with getting people started on the journey of theological processing, but fall flat in the follow-through.

If you want to keep your kids interested in the church, it would help if you kept their parents interested in the church.  Especially since so many spiritual/theological questions are answered by parents. Religiously ignorant/stagnant parents will influence their children more than 50 other adults who those children see once-a-week.

I don’t know if I’ve answered the question, but I hope it’s a start.

The Future is Now…or Why Children Are Not Special

Kelly says, “And children ARE Special, because they are our future. If we don’t engage our youth, they will not stay, or come back, or be invested in our faith as adults.”

This is where I fundamentally disagree with current UU thinking.  I believe the future is now and that as long as you don’t engage the ADULTS, there is no real chance to really engage the children.  UUs do religious education of children fairly well (of course things can always be/get better), it’s the adults that are not fully engaged in the ongoing spiritual development that is required to be a mature person. And let’s face it…..if the parents are not fully engaged in spiritual development, then it’s going to be really hard to keep their children engaged because most spiritual development happens OUTSIDE of church. If the church is not helping the parents (and other adults who are around) figure out what they believe, how are they going to be able to help their children figure out what they believe?

This is why I believe children are not special. At least not in or of themselves.  Adults are special too. And until UUs figure that out, we’ll have more children in RE than adults in the pew. And that’s a recipe for disaster.