Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think.
Noam Chomsky (via zeitgeistrama)
Post-secondary education is neither necessary nor sufficient to change society. Those of us with degrees need to stop acting like university uniquely equips us to improve or transform the institutions in which we operate. On average, we’re less indebted and more able to pay off that debt as a share of our income than those without degrees, so I’d suggest their debt loads are more of an urgent problem.
I think that the problem is less “time to think” than “time to act.” If you believe that highly educated people can bring useful skills to bear on pressing problems, but that there are often minimal financial resources to pay educated workers to bring those skills to bear, then debt loads may preclude spending time focusing on those particular problems. In effect, if you can’t pay people to do the work then the socially-pressing work may not be done by those best suited to do it.
To contextualize: when I finished my degree there was a minimum amount of income I had to make to service my debt loads while simultaneously surviving in whatever city I ended up living in. That minimum income immediately meant that a series of jobs that would have been politically and intellectually engaging had to be set aside on the basis of insufficient monetary remuneration. It’s this kind of issue that Chomsky is getting at.