Tour promotes the value of higher education
University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Leo E. Morton brought the University of Missouri System Show Me Value Tour to the Kansas City Northland with a visit to Eastgate Middle School on Feb. 27 and New Mark Middle School on March 6.
The tour, originated by UM System President Tim Wolfe, is designed to counter growing sentiment that a college education is not as valuable as it once was. Morton discussed both the personal and societal benefits of obtaining a college degree with AVID scholars. AVID is a college readiness program that targets students who fall in the middle academically and have aspirations for college.
Morton said a college education allows them to discover their talents, hone strengths, think creatively and strategically, and learn to work in teams, which are all skills needed in today’s workforce, regardless of the job.
“There is no greater investment you can make in yourself than a college education,” Morton said. “A college education gives you choices and will help you be successful. Education is the path to lifelong success.”
Wolfe launched the tour soon after he became alarmed that the message of higher education was getting lost. There has been a growing body of literature that points to increases in student debt and declining job placement rates, which he feared could cause some students to reconsider a college education.
Wolfe said that in reality, insurmountable debt for students following graduation is the exception, rather than the norm, and the alternative of not going to college has more dire consequences than paying off student debt. At the four campuses of the University of Missouri System, approximately eight out of 10 students get some form of financial aid. For instance, a person with a college degree will make nearly twice as much in his or her lifetime as someone with a high school diploma. And the rate of return on a college degree is about 15 percent – compared to the stock market at around 7 percent and the housing market at .4 percent.
“Don’t let finances hold you back,” Morton said. “Once you’ve earned it, no one can take it away from you,” he said.
Growing up in the segregated South during the Civil Rights era, Morton said he couldn’t have imagined that he would go on to become a business and university leader, thanks to his college education. As he shared his story with the students, he urged them to talk with their parents so they can work college into their life plan.
“Go to college and be yourself,” Morton said. “We need you to live up to your potential. Your future path is up to you.”