A President's Reflections

Ten Ways to Waste Your Tuition Dollars

Posted on September 5, 2012

The following was from my comments to our entering first year students at Convocation.  A couple of our faculty members asked me to post it, so here it is in all its slightly pedantic glory:

Ten Ways to Waste Your Money and Ours

  1. Fail to make friends with international students.  SNHU enrolls 900 of them from 60 countries.  No other school in this state and few in New England gives you the richness of this opportunity. You will work in a globally connected world.  You have an amazing chance to connect, to understand, to travel, to build your own global network.  If I were you and wanted to waste my money, I’d ignore those international students.
  2. Don’t study abroad.  Whether a year, a semester, a two week trip during break – -do it.  It will change your life.  It will make you a better citizen of the world.  Nah.
  3. Refuse to confront your fears.  Afraid to speak in front of others, you could do public speaking or an acting class.  Afraid of math, you might sign up for math classes and master it.  Afraid of people different than you, maybe join organizations that are more broadly inclusive.  Or…you could just live with your shortcomings.
  4. Stay within the boundaries of campus.  But you’ll miss the satisfaction and joy of working with our local refugee community, the hands-on learning and connections that internships yield, the adventure of study abroad, and the reality that we do not live or study in a bubble.
  5. Refuse to ask for help.  A lot of what we do here is hard.  Hard on your brain.  Hard on your emotions perhaps.  Maybe hard on your body.  Whether it’s the Learning Center, the Library staff, the Wellness Center, or any number of campus offices, we have staff that live to help you be your very best and to help you navigate those times when things just get hard.  There is another viable option: struggle needlessly.
  6. Hold onto your old unquestioned assumptions.  At age 18 we are mostly the product of luck and belief systems handed to us by parents and our home culture.  These four years are about looking hard at those assumptions, reaffirming the ones that you believe in after that hard look, and rejecting those that no longer make sense to you.  This is sometimes hard.  Even harder on your family and friends.  But this is the time when you truly become your own person.  That’s why it’s called “education.”  I suppose you could choose not be educated…..(why are you here again?).
  7. Fight for the unimportant things. The wealth gap is growing in this country.  The planet is burning.  Young men and women are dying in Afghanistan and it barely makes the news.  Sexual orientation remains a widely accepted target for bigotry and small mindedness.  If you are fighting for more of the NFL package on our campus cable system, you really are fighting for the unimportant things.  Good luck!
  8. Do the minimum work required for your courses.  You will in four years enter a tough job market in a world where you are competing as much with smart Indian and Chinese and German college graduates as you are with other Americans.  Employers are looking for stars – not C students or even B students. 
  9. Get those Gen Ed courses out of the way as quickly as possible.  If you came here for a major – whether it be Business, or Education, or Justice Studies – and think that Gen Ed courses are sort of a barrier before you get to the good stuff, you fail to recognize what employers and your faculty in the majors will tell you: that in Gen Ed you learn to write, to problem solve, use quantitative methods, and think critically.  Those are the core skills that spell success in your majors and in your careers.  If you are an accountant, teacher, or cop who can’t write, do calculations, or think through a problem….well, it will have been a great way to waste your money.
  10. Be the person you were in high school.  It’s a common mistake to think you were accepted to SNHU because of who you’ve been.  We liked what we saw, but you’re here for who we think you can become

We set the stage.  We’ll give you opportunities galore.  We’ll give you back up support.  We’ll give you great faculty.  We’ll give you challenges if you are willing to take them on. 

We can’t give you what you now have to bring to the game:


Work ethic;



It’s cliché, I know, but you will get from your SNHU experience what you put into it.  Talk to recent graduates who ignored my ten rules for wasting their money and ours – the ones who threw themselves into everything, took risks, tried new things, questioned old ideas – and they will tell you that SNHU changed their lives and gave them four amazing years.

Now you have the same opportunity for the same experience and if you ignore my ten rules, you’ll think your tuition dollars the best you ever spent.

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