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Monday, Mar 4, 2024
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Mercer education, worth the cost

The price of an education at Mercer, from printing to dining options.
The price of an education at Mercer, from printing to dining options.

I pondered the question, “What do we actually pay for?” a lot after reading the article in The Cluster a few weeks ago. After searching, I believe I now have that answer. Though it is just an opinion, and I could be wrong, I will throw out a few facts to back up my argument.

I realize that as a junior my outlook on Mercer is completely different than the freshman who wrote the other article. You see, I understand the struggle of a broke college student. I live that daily. I realize, however, that Mercer has given me so much more than what money can buy, but I will address the monetary matters first.

First is the issue of printing. The library and academic resource center both offer printing for students. Both do charge you a few quarters to print, but it is not as inconvenient as you might think. Consider this for a moment. Did you have to buy a pack of paper, a printer and an ink cartridge to use the printer? No, so the 10 cents that you pay per copy is not a bad deal.

Some colleges offer free printing but with restrictions, such as a limited number of free printed copies before the price jumps up or they cost 50 cents per copy. In reality, the printing system here is far from the end of the world. If you become financially unstable from a couple sheets of paper, then there are always opportunities to earn cash around campus. I currently work two jobs and make ends meet. Both jobs are on campus, and I applied through the student jobs website. The process was fairly easy.

Next up is the laundry system here at Mercer. It is $1.25 to wash and dry clothes. Again, this is not a perfect system, but we also do not live in a perfect world. Consider the water and electricity that it takes to do a load, or many loads, of laundry. Energy cost for a wash is an average of 36 cents and 40 cents to dry. Water is 11 cents per load. Then, factor in equipment cost per load which is about another 35 cents. On average that is $1.22 a load at home using your own washer and dryer, so is $1.25 really as far fetched?

It is about a 3 cent difference in what it would cost you per load if you owned a washer and dryer, but you would have to fork up about $1,300 for the washer and dryer up front. No college student who is financially unstable can afford that. The $1.25 is not nearly as unreasonable as you may think when you consider the cost at an actual laundromat is about $4.00 per load.

Lastly, it was pointed out that we do not have a 24-hour dining hall. The two examples that were cited were Kennesaw State and the University of Georgia. The enrollment number at KSU is 32,500 and at UGA it is 35,197. Mercer does not even come close to those numbers, so why should we keep a dining hall open for a couple thousand students versus 30,000?

It doesn’t make sense to keep our dining hall open 24/7 when you consider the fact that your meal plan would just go up to cover the costs of being open all the time. The Caf has done midnight-breakfast a couple times, and it’s a great idea. But even at midnight there are barely a hundred people there. It doesn’t make sense from a logistical standpoint to stay open all the time.

The campus has extended hours in the University Center this year. The addition of Einstein’s Bros. Bagels gives yet another option for your late night cravings. Now, those places may not be perfect or what you want, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not as bad as we make it out to be. During the weekend, it seems there are more inconvenience with dining, but it’s not like we are being starved to death. There are options, but it’s not the “perfect” option. So we, as students, complain — myself included. It seems like that is what our generation has become. We complain if something is not convenient.

Also, U.S. News and World Report ranked Mercer University the second-best value school in the South, only trailing William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. They also ranked Mercer as eighth-best school in the South overall. The old adage, “you get what you pay for” seems to apply. I realize that it’s expensive, but I get to carry the Mercer name for the rest of my days. That’s something money can’t buy, or I guess technically we are buying, but it seems to be worth it.

Now that I feel I have accurately depicted what a Mercer student deals with financially, I would like to now go back and examine what I think we are paying for. Maybe I have on rose-colored glasses, and I’m seeing this school in a way that most don’t. Maybe I’m blinded by the great things that have happened here.

Mercer has given me the best three years of my life. I have made memories that I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world or at least the money it cost to print over that time period. I’ve seen two NCAA tournament games, watched football return to Mercer and seen our school grow on a national level.

I have built a resume that is competitive against students from larger schools like UGA. Mercer has made me see Macon in a different light, too. I’ve lived here my whole life, and yet I do not think I ever truly felt at home in Macon until I arrived at Mercer.

In three short years, I have done more than most do in a lifetime. Mercer has given me a life that most dream of. I’ve got great friends, good professors and, most importantly, a place to call home for the rest of my days.

Yes, I pay money to go here, but every penny has been worth it. If I could go back and see the costs of laundry, printing and lack of food on the weekend, I’d gladly do it all over again for the sake of being able to call myself a Mercerian.


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