The value of a Trinity education

Photo by Julie Bidwell

As you read this piece, Trinity has just launched the Class of 2020 into the world. Though, in truth, it’s not as if our students have been in a bubble set apart from the world until now. Indeed, one of Trinity’s greatest strengths and most distinguishing characteristics is its excellent integration of classroom learning with real-world experience and application. These new alums are prepared for life after college with an education of value, both relevant and rigorous.

I have no doubt that today’s graduates will realize the long-term benefits of their Trinity education just as generations before them have. Many of you, I know, saw the recent data out of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce showing that liberal arts colleges have a long-term return on investment that bests most other kinds of higher education institutions. And, when you look at the 40-year returns (earnings relative to college debt levels), Trinity ranks 10th best among all liberal arts colleges! That’s a great point of pride for all of us, even though it measures just one aspect of what we think is important and valuable about a Trinity education.

Continuing this tradition of success and ensuring a strong return on investment for our students are among our highest priorities. I am happy to say that there are all kinds of current indicators of Trinity’s continued value. One indicator is the recent news that Trinity was again named a Top Producer of Fulbrights—one of just 19 institutions in the country to have been recognized for both the Fulbright U.S. Student and Fulbright Scholar programs for 2019–20. Another telling proof point of the value of a Trinity education is our first-destinations survey, in which we ask new graduates about where they’ve landed in their first six months after Commencement. For the Class of 2019, 96.6 percent reported positive outcomes: they were either employed full or part time, enrolled in graduate or professional school, working in a service role (such as the military, Peace Corps, or Teach For America), or pursuing fellowships/other opportunities. 

What’s more, a good number of them landed their first jobs with the help of Trinity alumni. The strength of our Bantam Network is truly unparalleled! Thank you to all who continue to provide mentoring, internships, and jobs to our students and graduates and who serve as powerful examples of what a Trinity education can provide. More than 2,000 of you have signed on to the Bantam Career Network. If you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for? Check out https://bcn.trincoll.edu for more information and to join today.

Although there is not a single, particular metric that I can show to prove the holistic value of the kind of education that Trinity provides, we know it’s one that adds value in an increasingly complex world. As I write this essay in early spring, we are in the midst of a global outbreak of the coronavirus, with no sense yet of how long it will last and how devastating it may be. Confronting such a crisis requires not only expertise but also the ability to see problems from all angles, to anticipate new challenges, and to ask questions that haven’t been asked before. And, critically, our ability to end such crises depends upon our ability to collaborate—to communicate effectively, to respect other perspectives and expertise, and to have a shared sense of humanity. In other words, exactly the kinds of skills, qualities, and values of a Trinity education.

Hence, there is continued proof that a Trinity education is good for the individual and good for the complex world in which we live.