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Is Higher Education Still Worth the Cost?

One of the big concerns I have whenever anyone asks me about the possibility of seminary is the cost. Realistically, pastoral ministry is not a terribly well-paying job and seminary is crazy expensive. I’ve also known a number of people gone through school for degrees in English, History and social sciences who’ve ended up slinging coffee at Starbucks (which I’m not knocking‚ÄĒif I lose my job, it’s the first place I’m applying).

So does higher education still matter? Is the cost still worth it given the state of the economy?

While the jobs that have been disappearing first in the new economic climate have been those not requiring a college degree, Dr. Phil Ryken addresses some of the other values of higher education, particularly the benefits of Christ-centered instruction modeled at his and other like-minded Christian colleges.

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3 thoughts on “Is Higher Education Still Worth the Cost?”

  1. As someone who just graduated with a Th.M a few months ago and am now coming back to reality, I would say it was definitely worth it. However, in my situation, when I decided to go seminary, I had just graduated undergrad with zero debt, was single, and knew it was where God was leading me.

    Four years later (yes, I did 120hrs of seminary in exactly four years), I’m glad to be done, and it definitely exacted a price (which I’ll have to start paying back in December). I’m not particularly happy to be in debt as much as I am, but hopefully we’ll continue to work on our Dave Ramsey debt snowball in the coming months and years. Looking back, I might have done things differently on the financial side, but at this point what’s done is done.

    Personally, I am usually a self-taught kind of person. I went to seminary because I knew God was leading me there, but also because I want to teach in higher education and need the piece of paper that says I am qualified. It is interesting though now to see that at the particular church I am at, I have the highest level of theological education (even over the head pastor), yet because I am young and inexperienced, my education does not translate easily into job opportunities. II’ve ¬†was asked to be the youth leader, and for that I’m grateful, but it is interesting how in some ministry circles, connections trump credentials most of the time.
    I’ve been thinking through all this recently, so I might have blog post or two germinating.

  2. As someone in full-time ministry who does not have a seminary degree, the cost is not worth it. There are without question benefits to Christian higher education and anyone not interested in lifelong learning should reconsider ministry as their vocation but those benefits are not equal to the financial, relational and time costs which exist.

    Almost every seminary has realized this and now makes classes/degrees available in a modular format with very little time actually spent on campus or online with no time at all spent with the people you are studying alongside.

    1. This is great feedback, Chris. I’m glad to know I’m not off my rocker by thinking that it may not be worth it considering the cost. The modular/distance education route that a lot of seminaries are going is huge as are things like ReTrain. It’s good to see that seminaries are paying attention to the accessibility issue.

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