Now and forever, the most important investment

The start of a fresh new year and the beginning of the William Woods Spring 2023 semester have excitement and optimism written all over them. Of course, our mission of preparing young people for their future careers within the vitality of a college campus lend themselves to such sentiments. Such an environment is what prompted so many of us to choose careers in higher learning.

I must say, however, that one cannot ignore some of the proverbial storm clouds on our sunny higher education horizon.

For some time I, along with many others, have been taking note of a troubling disconnect about the value of higher education in our nation and society. In recent years, no less than Time Magazine reported on recent trends in higher education, including increases in student debt or declines in job placement rates that have focused on the extreme as opposed to the typical. A 2020 Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey found a growing number of Americans were losing faith in a college degree with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying that a university education wasn’t worth the cost. And just last fall, the Chronicle Of Higher Education revisited this troubling theme with a story entitled “Working The Public Perception Problem” (

I can remember a time not long ago when a college degree was absolutely coveted by all. A university education was unquestionably seen as a new frontier, a crucial gateway, that made everything possible. It was the secret to prosperity in life. Now some people seem to think of college as a means to drown in debt, and that a college degree is not necessary.

This is mystifying, alarming and simply not true, because by any measure, a university education continues to be of great value. in fact, a university education is the best possible investment that an individual can make in their own future. Studies consistently show that those with a college degree earn about $1.6 million more in their lifetime than those without a college degree. Unemployment rates for college graduates are less than half compared to those who did not attend college. Furthermore, studies have also consistently shown that people with university educations live longer, more healthy lives. Check out this heartbreaking story from a few years back that featured the town of Kennett in Missouri’s Bootheel that illustrated how a lack of college education had become a public health crisis:

And yes, the cost of a university education is not insignificant. But more costly is not making the investment in a better life that comes with earning that degree. And by the way, we are keenly aware of the challenge of paying for college, which is why 100 percent of our incoming class of new students in 2023 will be receiving some form of institutional aid. And, consider the fact that our tuition is about $1,400 less than the average tuition of our peer private, small college competitors.

So, yes, individuals with college degrees live more prosperous, healthy lives. I would add that as a society, we are also made better by an educated population. Our culture is more vibrant. Our economy is stronger. The quality of life in our communities, state, and nation is simply better.

As we begin our bright, new semester at The Woods, let’s always remember this fundamental fact: higher education is the path to success for our state’s and nation’s citizens, and investing in higher education will always be the wisest choice for our society.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Jeremy Moreland, Ph.D.


William Woods University