When you’re aware of the financial cost of an endeavor, you may be more motivated to devote a commensurate amount of time, energy, and appreciation towards that undertaking. Though an education is, of course, worth much more than a dollar amount, taking an honest look at the numbers can help students recognize the weight of their investment.

In their book FOCUS on College and Career Success, Second Edition, Dr. Steve Staley and Dr. Constance Staley include an exercise that encourages students to calculate the cost of their education: not only in terms of tuition, but also the additional activities, tools, and expenses that are involved in class attendance. This may refresh their commitment towards their studies, and it could help them realize that they’re missing out on quite a bit if they skip classes!

Add up the cost of going to college for an entire term: tuition for one semester/trimester/quarter, the total estimated cost of all the gas you will use to get to and from class for the term, books and supplies, a computer you may have bought, and child care or any other expenses related to your going to school. Put down everything you can think of. Divide that grand total by the number of hours you are in school (number of weeks class is in session multiplied by the number of hours you are scheduled to be in class). For example, if you are taking two 3-hour classes for a 16-week semester, the number you will divide your grand total by 96 (= 6 hours x 16 weeks). Completing this exercise will show you how much money each class session costs you—and the cost of missing class! Compare your “hourly rate” with that of your classmates and discuss the results as a group. (36)

Reference: Staley, Steve and Constance Staley. 2015. FOCUS on College and Career Success, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.


How do you encourage students to remember the value of their education? Share your thoughts below.