The Alumni Donation šŸŽ“ | 62

In this edition I talk about the conversation I had with the Utah State University Alumni department. It started when they called and asked me for a donation to help students struggling witht the cost of tuition. It ended politely, but not how anyone could have predicted.


music by Dyalla Swain


hello and welcome to parking thought the
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curiosity meet gratitude my name is
Jacob and I’m glad you’re here today
in this edition I’m gonna be talking to
you a little bit about a phone call
exchange I had with the Utah State
University Alumni Department yes so I am
an alumnus of Utah State University I
had a great time while I was there now
let’s understand a little bit more about
this here so it was definitely a
non-traditional student in high school
I’d barely graduated by two points on a
math final and in the military once I
had learned some of the discipline and
the ability to adapt to things and be a
bit more structured I started taking
college classes on nights and weeks
weekends and was very successful at that
by the time I got to Utah State I had
already been a staff sergeant in the
Army for quite some time two deployments
under my belt to Iraq and I was off on
college campus years old and two kids
one on the way I was definitely a
non-traditional student and so you know
I learned and studied at Utah State and
I did reasonably well we had our third
child over there and all of this stuff
just kind of kept going forward well you
know USU is a great campus with
excellent educators and they are
absolutely awesome now they also
represent an industry that I think like
micro does that they don’t necessarily
have a lock or a monopoly on having the
world’s information in fact the majority
of the world’s information that’s
created is outside of the university
system and so you know while a
university experience is great if you’re
a lifelong learner it is not a
requirement now for some employment
purposes they still look for degrees and
they scrub based upon that and those are
very real things but that is not true
everywhere and not true anymore and I
think that we’re in the big
of a shift away from the college degree
being worth so much or at least from a
societal perspective now this doesn’t
mean that I don’t believe people should
be educated this doesn’t mean that I I
believe that school is bad this just
means that you know schools now have to
compete especially universities need to
compete that with you know other
opportunities that exist out there I
recently actually exited taking classes
from on agriculture I wanted to learn in
January it was one of my goals was
to start learning more about agriculture
and why because I worked for an
agricultural company and it just kind of
made sense you know to be able to be a
more effective employee at the company I
wanted to learn more about the different
parts of that business and how it works
in functions and what I discovered as I
started taking these classes was that I
was actually learning from somebody who
was very good and very prominent but the
course curriculum that style of learning
right where we calculate semester hours
it was a three semester hour class so
therefore I had to dedicate nine hours a
week to the learning in the model that
they had prescribed and that
prescription was very very taxing on my
limited time especially since I wanted
to continue podcasting and being able to
share things with you guys and so it
really came down to well where am I
going to see more value over time and
also the other part I realized is that I
had access to better information inside
of the organization that would help
teach me about the way the agricultural
industry works both the micro and macro
level than what I was seeing from the
curriculum from the school now if I were
starting off from zero right that school
Avenue would have been great that would
have been really good to have but I’m
not starting from zero I’m starting from
I know how to be a lifelong learner I
know how to gather information and I’m
surrounded by people I can you work with
as mentors and coaches to help me
understand how things fit in context and
how they actually work and have
practical examples and so instead of
having to be able to sit there for the
nine dedicated hours a week to be able
to do the curriculum and material in the
format that they want
I’ve decided to just continue to be a
self learner and lifelong learner and
move on now not everybody’s like that
and especially when you’re younger you
tend to find yourself wanting to have
that structure again that structure that
I needed in the military some of that
structure is available and what makes
school attractive especially a
university setting is that structure
being there and being available and I
don’t deny that so let’s go back Utah
State University’s alumni Department
calls me up every year and asks me if I
want to donate to a fund specifically
designed to help struggling students
right struggling students who are
dealing with the financial burden of
being able to pay for classes and the
nice young lady who is calling me this
time I just you know so great like early
s late teens
you know bubbly and happy and just like
hey are you willing to donate and I said
alright let’s have this conversation
again you know and I explained to them
again that there are three components of
any system flow feedback in continuous
learning we’ve talked about this on this
podcast right flow feedback in
continuous learning and then the
University model of Education is a part
of a flow feedback and continuous
learning system in fact they should be
the ones championing for the idea on the
proliferation of teaching people that
flow feedback and continuous learning
out a thing however university tuition
on the whole has absolutely gone up and
up and up and up and up and up and up
across the entire university system all
over the place this could be because
just like in medicine we tend to now
have a single payer right the federal
government is the single payer of
university you know expenses although
parents might feel like they are right
in aggregate with the loans and other
things that are going on out there that
are backed by the federal government the
federal government tends to be the
single largest payer and they don’t have
an incentive to make the cost of school
cheaper now Utah State University tries
to serve and does a very good job
passionately serving students who may
struggle financially to be able to go to
school and I sympathize with those
students who are financially struggling
struggling to go to school however if I
were to donate to that fund and this is
exactly what I told this nice young lady
if I were to donate to that fund right
it would not encourage the university to
reduce their tuition it would encourage
the university to increase their tuition
everything else in our lives has gotten
cheaper right everything else in our
life has gotten deeper your devices that
you’re using have gotten cheaper the
food that you buy has gotten cheaper
right and yet the university system has
gotten significantly more expensive as
far as an experience goes even though
the knowledge that is available to help
somebody learn things is more prolific
outside of the university system than
ever and so I told you know this nice
young lady all of these things and and
my wife was sitting next to me and she’s
like all I’ll bet you that young lady
didn’t honor this and and you know
honestly uh she she felt kind of like oh
wow I never thought of it that way and
again I I think it’s missing from part
of the university education flow
feedback in continuous learning how do
systems work and operate they study the
systems of the body they study you know
systems in cells they study systems in
plants I study systems of basic
fundamental organisms but we don’t take
that knowledge and we don’t apply it to
the systems that we are participating in
I love Utah State I think they provide
an excellent education I did not donate
to that fund and the nice young lady
asked me at the end of it she said well
do you want me to take you off the list
and I said well no just next year tell
me how much you do reduce tuition by and
I’ll gladly help support you you know by
helping students stick around but until
you guys reduce tuition costs why would
I give you an incentive that would only
encourage you to increase it and then
only encourage the system to ask for
more of these funds from its alumni now
if you toss a state was going to be
building a new sidewalk or doing
something else to improve the campus and
that’s where the funds were going I’d
seriously consider being able to
contribute so that way the experience on
campus would be better
I love USU one of the great things about
it if you’ve never been there as it is
in Logan Utah
literally nestled at the bottom of a
canyon and it’s it was such a fun
experience I would ride my bike up to
school because I didn’t live that far
away I’d ride my bike up to school and
then if I wanted to get some additional
exercise in during the day
I could literally leave between classes
like if I had an hour between classes I
could get on the bike
I could go up the canyon right get a
good run in or a good bike ride in and
then ride back and then finish out the
rest of my day on campus in my classes
and it was awesome now one of the things
that happens when you’re that close to a
canyon is what we call Canyon winds for
some reason wind comes down a canyon
pretty fierce and so there was one
morning when we were running and the
wind tends to be a little stronger in
the morning we were running into the
mouth of the canyon there was a seven or
seven percent decline on the road that
we were running on down into the canyon
that we were gonna head back into town
and I’m with a bunch of the other folks
that in an ROTC with me and where we’re
going or doing this run and literally it
felt like the wind was pushing me back
uphill it was that strong and at great
memories from those experiences great
memories from the educators who are
there they are passionate about teaching
students they are dedicated to doing
that they love their students and I have
loved the experience having been there
and I want more people to be able to
have that experience but if we only
incentivize schools and educators to be
able to increase costs when the reality
is they need to recognize they’re
competing against non-traditional
education systems then I don’t think
that’s going to help us out in the long
run so that is kind of an odd bit of
parking thought because we usually talk
about gratitude and curiosity and it may
sound like I’m not terribly grateful
because I didn’t donate any money the
reality is I am grateful but being
grateful doesn’t mean that I’m willing
to facilitate a part of a system that I
think is destructive and we should
probably talk more about how systems can
be created by well-meaning people to do
well-meaning things but actually turn
out to be very very caustic and
directive so let’s wrap this up there
with that little tease at the end and
this is the part where I tell you that
the best way to say thank you for this
episode is to share it with someone you
know and if you know the young lady I
was talking to it you saw State
University please share this with her
because I she was so wonderful so
enthusiastic and I really did appreciate
her reminding me of my great memories
that I had there if you’re joining us
just for this episode that’s fine we’re
glad you can make it if you want to
stick around for the long haul head on
over to parking thumb or wherever you
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all of those things you should be able
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that’ll let you know when the latest
episode publishes right as it’s ready
and fresh for you guys and at the end of
every episode I like to finish with this
challenge that we should remember in a
world where we can literally choose to
be anything oh why not choose to be