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普林斯顿大学校长伊斯格鲁布2018毕业演讲
2018 Commencement Address by President Eisgruber — ‘The Value of a College Degree’

[2018年6月12日] 来源:Princeton University  作者:克里斯托弗·伊斯格鲁布(Christopher L. Eisgruber)   字号 [] [] []  

普林斯顿大学(Princeton University)校长伊斯格鲁布(Christopher L. Eisgruber)6月5日在2018年毕业典礼上发表演讲。他在演讲中反复强调,上大学是一笔高回报的投资,尤其从长远来看。


调整语速:

In a few minutes, all of you will march through FitzRandolph Gate as newly minted graduates of this University. Before you do, it is my privilege to say a few words about the path that lies ahead.

It is indeed a privilege, and also a joy, to address you, for all of you who graduate today have accomplished something genuinely important and worth celebrating. You have completed a demanding course of study. It will transform your life in many ways. It will expand the range of vocations you can pursue, increase your knowledge of the world, deepen your capacity to appreciate societies and cultures, and provide a foundation for lifelong learning.

So we celebrate here on the lawn in front of Nassau Hall, as do other college communities in courtyards, auditoria, arenas, and stadia around the country. Graduates toss caps in the air and professors applaud. Families cheer and holler enthusiastically. Yet, even as we do so, we see a strange trend from columnists, bloggers, think tanks, and politicians. In essays, books, and speeches, some of them suggest that too many students are earning college degrees.

Too many college graduates: that is a very odd claim, because the economic evidence for the value of a college degree is overwhelming. For example, in 2014, economists Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimated the average annual return on investment from a college degree, net of tuition paid and lost earnings, at between 9 percent and 16 percent per year for a lifetime (1). For the last two decades, the return on investment has hovered at the high end of that range, around 15 percent per year.

By comparison, the historical average return on investments in the American stock market is around 7 percent per year. That is why my friend Morton Shapiro, the president of Northwestern University and a leading educational economist, says that for most people, the decision to invest in a college degree will be “the single best financial decision they make in a lifetime,” even if judged purely in terms of financial return on investment.

A degree conveys many other benefits as well. For example, college graduates report higher levels of happiness and job satisfaction, even after controlling for income. College graduates are healthier than non-graduates. They are more likely to exercise, more likely to vote, and have higher levels of civic engagement. To these pragmatic considerations we should add the joys that come with an increased capacity to appreciate culture, the arts, the world’s diversity, and the inherent beauty of extraordinary ideas.

The numbers I have quoted are not specific to Princeton. On the contrary, they are averages over all four-year degrees, in all fields, from all colleges in the United States. Think about that for a moment: on average, all degrees in all fields from all colleges generate an annual return between 9 percent and 16 percent, and this return is supplemented by additional benefits to health, happiness, and quality of life. How could anyone think we need fewer college graduates?

Some people answer that you can learn a trade without getting a college degree. Welders, they observe, can make more money than many college graduates. That’s true. There are, of course, reasons why you might want to get a college degree even if you plan to become a welder. You might worry, for example, about what happens if technology renders your trade obsolete, or arthritis leaves you unable to practice it, or you want to move into management or explore other interests. A college degree equips you to respond to the changes — to yourself, and to the world — that inevitably occur over a lifetime.

Still, if pundits and politicians were saying only that America needs better vocational training, I could agree wholeheartedly. It would be terrific if more people could get the training they need to practice a trade. But at the same time it would also be great if more people, not fewer, could receive the extraordinary benefits that come with a college degree.

So I ask again: why would anyone think we need fewer college graduates? I think there is a simple answer. Education requires high-quality teaching. Teaching, in turn, depends upon skilled labor, which is expensive. As a result, the up-front cost for education is real, large, and easy to measure. The returns are equally real and even larger, but they accrue over a lifetime, are hard to measure, and vary from person to person. It is tempting to wish that you could get more certainty at lower cost.

The people who call for fewer degrees yield to that temptation. They emphasize the short-term. They focus almost entirely on the price of college and on the salaries students might earn in their first jobs. That is a mistake.

A college education is a long-term investment. It enables graduates to develop and adapt, and it pays off spectacularly in the long run. The idea that we would be better off with fewer college graduates is a short-term swindle, a swindle that will cheat America’s young people, weaken the nation’s economy, and undermine our future. We need to have the confidence to invest in our young people and to ensure that a college education is accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds and financial circumstances.

I hope that all of you who graduate today, and who experience the power of education in your own lives, will become advocates for the value of higher education in our society. There is a national conversation taking place right now about the value of higher education, and we need your voice in that conversation. We need you, in other words, to help others to achieve in the future what you achieve today.

How can you help more students earn college degrees? Here are three suggestions. First, become advocates for the importance of completion rates. A college education produces a tremendous return—if you get the degree. Returns are much lower if you start college but do not get the degree. The highest default rates on student loans do not involve college graduates with big debts. They instead involve students with small debts who never finish college and so never get the earnings boost that comes with a degree.

A few moments ago, we awarded an honorary degree to President Barbara Gitenstein. Over her nearly two decades leading The College of New Jersey, she raised the College’s four-year graduation rate from 58 percent to 75 percent, a number that puts TCNJ’s on-time completion rate among the top ten in the nation for public colleges and universities. By raising TCNJ’s graduation rate, President Gitenstein has improved the lives of thousands of students who might have left school with debt but no degree. Be an advocate for higher education leaders like Bobby Gitenstein, and for colleges like TCNJ that commit to improving completion rates.

Second, support America’s public institutions of higher education. State subsidies for public colleges and universities have declined precipitously, and state funding represents an increasingly small share of the budget at public research universities. At the University of Michigan, for example, state funding now accounts for only about 9 percent of total revenues. In the 1950s, by contrast, that number was 80 percent. Tuition at state universities has risen not because they have increased their expenditures per student, but because state legislatures have hollowed out their other sources of support.

America depends on its public colleges and universities. They are engines of social mobility and innovation. Princeton and other private universities make essential contributions to the nation and the world — but there is no way that we could ever replace America’s great public institutions. They are a national treasure, and I urge you to support them.

Third, stand up for the importance of enabling more students from low-income families to earn college degrees. Princeton’s Great Class of 2018 graduates today as the most socioeconomically diverse class in the 272-year history of this University. You will not hold that record for long. Other classes already at Princeton will break your record. Our graduate programs are likewise drawing upon new sources of talent: this spring we admitted the most socioeconomically diverse class of doctoral students in Princeton University’s history.

At Princeton we believe in socioeconomic diversity because we know that to achieve excellence as a University and as a nation we must draw talent from every sector of society. We know, too, that a Princeton degree is a rocket-booster for students seeking socioeconomic mobility. If we want to heal the divisions that inequality has produced in this country, we must ensure that students from low-income backgrounds receive the educations they need to develop their abilities and contribute to our society.

As I look out at our extraordinary class of undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degree recipients, I take pride in your excellence and your diversity, and I am excited about the contributions you will make in the years ahead. The world needs more college degrees, not fewer. We need more celebrations like the one we hold today, with more proud families and happy graduates ready to go out and make a positive difference in the world. All of us on this platform are thrilled to be a part of your celebration. We applaud your achievements. We send our best wishes as you begin the adventures that lie ahead, and we look forward to welcoming you back to this campus on future visits. To the Great Class of 2018 and all of our graduates, congratulations!

几分钟后,作为这所大学新一批的毕业生,你们都会走出校门。

在这之前,我有幸能够和你们聊一聊你们过去几年和未来几年的生活,当然,请允许我站在台上而不是跳到你们中间。在我的演讲过程中,这种举动看似很有趣,但没有防护头盔的话,我是不会这么干的。

不管是不是站在这个台上,我感到非常荣幸也非常高兴能够站在你们面前致辞,所有今天毕业的同学们,你们完成了一件非常重要且值得庆祝的事情,你们完成了学科课程的要求,这将在很多方面改变你的生活,它将扩大的你的择业范围,增加你对世界的认知,加深你理解社会文化的能力,并为终身学习提供基础。

因此我们聚集在这里,在拿骚楼(普林斯顿大学最古老的建筑)前的草坪上庆祝。其他大学也都在他们的庭院、礼堂、舞台和体育场内举行庆祝活动,毕业生们将帽子抛向天空,教授们在鼓掌,家人们在热情欢呼,尽管我们都是这么做的,但我们仍发现,社会上有一股奇怪的风气,这种风气来自一些专栏作家、博客作者、智库专家和政客,他们中的一些人在文章书籍和演讲里,宣称很多人其实不用上大学、大学生太多了。

多么奇怪的观点呀!因为已经有经济学数据充分证明了读大学的好处。例如,据2014年纽约联邦储备银行的经济学家Jaison Abel和Richard Deits的统计,投资一个大学学位的平均年回报率扣除学费和收入损失后大约在9%-16%之间,尤其在过去二十年间,投资回报率一直在该范围内的高位,大约为每年15%。相比之下,历史上美国股票市场的年平均投资回报率为7%,这就是为什么我的朋友西北大学校长、教育经济学家莫顿•夏皮罗(Morton Schapiro)说:“对于大多数人来说,投资大学学位将是他们一生中做过的最英明的经济决策,即使单从经济回报的角度来说。”

一个大学学位还能带来很多其他好处,比如,有报告显示大学毕业生们即使在收入不多的情况下,也拥有更高的幸福感和工作满意度。同时,大学毕业的人群要比非大学毕业的人群更健康,他们会更多的进行体育锻炼,更积极的参与投票,有更高层次的公民参与度。如果从实用角度考量的话,我们还应该加上那些由于对文化、艺术、世界多样性、内在美和卓越观点的理解能力增强而带来的乐趣。

我举例的这些数据不只适用于普林斯顿,相反,它反映了所有接受过美国大学四年制教育后的人会达到的平均水平。想想看,在任何专业领域,读完大学的年平均回报率都有9%-16%,还要再加上健康、幸福指数和生活质量等方面的额外收益,怎么会有人觉得应该少些人上大学呢?

有些人的回答是,因为你在没有大学学位的情况下,也能学会一门手艺,他们说电焊工有时比很多大学生都赚得多,这没错。当然也有理由解释为什么即使你打算成为电焊工也要先读个大学,比如你可能担心随着技术发展,你的手艺会被淘汰,或者伤病会让你无法胜任这份工作,又或者你想进入管理层,探索其他方面的爱好,大学学历能让你拥有应对更多变化的能力,无论是在你自身还是在全球发生的变化,而这些都是难以避免的。

不过,如果那些专家政客只是说:“我们需要更好的职业培训”,我完全赞同。如果更多人能够在就职前获得职业培训机会的话,那当然非常好。但与此同时,如果更多人而不是更少的人能从读大学这件事上有更深远的获益会更好。所以我再次发问:“为什么会有人认为我们需要更少的大学生?”

我认为答案其实很简单,高等教育意味着高质量的教学,教学则依赖于资深的教职员工们,而这些是非常昂贵的,因此,显而易见,根据量化统计教育的前期成本是非常高昂的。而教育的回报也同样是显而易见的,甚至回报还会比投入更多,但这种回报是难以量化统计并且因人而异的。企图以低成本博取更具确定性的收益的想法当然是诱人的,那些想少读书的人当然会屈服于这种诱惑,他们强调短期的把注意力完全集中在对大学学费和第一份工作的薪水的比较上,这是错误的。大学教育是一项长期投资,它让毕业生不断发展自己和适应世界,从长远来看,收益更加惊人。

“减少大学生会让这个国家更好”的想法是非常短视的骗局,欺骗美国年轻人的骗局。它会削弱国家经济,破坏我们的未来。我们要有信心投资我们的年轻人,并确保大学教育对于各种背景和经济状况的学生来说都是可以获得且负担得起的。

我希望,我希望今天所有毕业的同学,以及所有在生活中体会过教育力量的人们都能成为高等教育的倡导者。目前关于高等教育的价值有一场全国性的讨论,我们需要听到你们的声音。换句话说,我们需要你将来帮助他人取得你们今日所取得的成就。

关于如何帮助更多学生获得大学学位,这里有三点建议

首先,成为学业完成率的重要性的倡导者。

如果能取得学位的话,高等教育带来的收益是巨大的。如果你读了大学最终却没能取得学位,回报率会低得多。学生贷款违约率最高的那批人,不是负债最多的那些毕业生,而是没能读完大学的那些小额债务人。由于没能读完大学,他们也未能享受到高校学位带给他们的收入增长。

不久之前,我们授予了新泽西学院校长Barbara Gitenstein荣誉学位,在她领导新泽西学院近二十年的时间里,她将学校的四年制毕业率从58%提高到了75%,这个数字在全国公立高校排名前5%。通过提高学生的毕业率,Gitenstein校长改变了成千上万可能背负着债务辍学的学生的人生。支持更多像Gitenstein校长这样的高等教育领袖以及那些像新泽西学院一样致力于提高毕业率的院校吧。

其次,支持美国的公立高校。

美国各个州对公立高校的补助急剧下降,公立研究性大学的教育拨款在州财政预算中占比越来越小。例如,在密歇根大学,州的资助仅占总收入的9%。相比之下,在20世纪50年代,这个数字是80%。州立大学的学费上涨并不是因为他们增加了每个学生的花销,而是因为州立法机关挖空了其他的经济来源。美国依靠其公立学校而强大,他们是社会发展创新的引擎。普林斯顿和其他私立大学为这个国家和世界做出了显著的贡献,但我们无法取代美国伟大的公立机构,它们是国宝,我希望你们支持它们。

第三,倡导帮助更多低收入家庭学生获得大学学位。

普林斯顿2018届优秀毕业生是这所大学272年历史上社会经济背景最多元化的,珍惜这点特别之处吧,因为你们不会保持这个记录太久了,普林斯顿的其他学生将打破这个记录。我们的研究生项目同样吸引了各种背景的人才,今年春天,我们录取了普林斯顿历史上背景最具社会经济多样性的博士生。在普林斯顿,我们相信这种多样性的积极意义,因为我们知道,不管是大学还是国家想要向前发展必须从社会各阶层吸收人才。我们也知道,普林斯顿的学位是学生寻求社会经济阶层流动的助推器。如果我们想要解决这个国家由于不公平而导致的割裂,我们必须确保来自低收入全体的学生得到他们需要的教育,从而发展能力并为社会做出贡献。当看到我们的本科、硕士和博士毕业生时,我真心为你们的优秀和多元感到骄傲,并未你们将会在未来几年做出的贡献而感到兴奋。

这个世界需要更多的大学生,而不是更少!我们需要更多像今天这样的庆祝活动,需要更多自信快乐的毕业生和为他们骄傲的家人走出去,为世界带来积极的变化。在台上的所有人都为能参与到你们的庆祝活动中感到振奋,我们为你们的成就鼓掌,为你们即将开始的前方的冒险送上最美好的祝福,同时,我们欢迎你们将来多回母校看看。

2018届的优秀毕业生们,祝贺你们,也祝福你们。

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