Saint Mary’s Graduates: More Than Just the Money They Make

In a recent news article titled, “20 Colleges With The Worst Return Investment” The Daily Beast ranked Saint Mary’s College at the top of the list, coming in at #2. As two current Saint Mary’s students, we were greatly saddened to hear about this harsh ranking. So, we dug a bit deeper into exactly what a “return on investment” entails.

We spoke with a few alumni to gain their perspective on this irrational ranking. Tara Doyle, class of 2013, states, “If The Daily Beast believes that a return on investment is strictly characterized by a 6-figure salary and a Mercedes, then they need to re-evaluate their values.” She, like many other women we spoke to, believes that as far as Saint Mary’s is concerned, the women who graduate are more than just the money they make.

Since nursing and education are two of the most highly regarded programs offered at Saint Mary’s, graduates make up a large pool of women who help promote good health and education in society. SMC women leave campus with a professional attitude, extreme preparation, and a strong desire to work.

Meggie Wehmer, a 2007 graduate with a degree in education, reports, “After college I became a teacher right away. I got job offers immediately – thought that was normal. Now that I have been in the field for some time and have worked at two different schools I have many friends who didn't get jobs right away. I think that most of that had to do with Saint Mary's reputation and also the excellent preparation.”

This preparation and ability to get a job immediately after graduation are not outcomes every school can provide its students. Saint Mary’s doesn’t teach women that money is everything; rather it teaches that jobs like education are centered on helping people. These women don’t leave looking to make millions every year. They leave with a genuine desire to help people. And for most Saint Mary’s graduates, like Meggie, the ability to help people like that and do what they love is the only return on investment they need.

Since this article bases it's view of a return on investment solely on the salary aspect, we decided that this is not only completely biased, but also asked, "Is the return on investment more important for the graduate, or for the people with which the graduate works?" 

Saint Mary’s women change, save and help lives for the better. From nurses to teachers, our return from investment is measured by the good we do for others; not the financial aspects we obtain in our careers. Not to say that there has never been a student from Saint Mary’s successfully gain a six-figure career or become a wonderful CEO of a reputable company, but that is not all a Saint Mary’s education is about.

The mission of Saint Mary’s College is as follows:

“Saint Mary’s College is a Catholic, residential, women’s college in the liberal arts tradition. A pioneer in the education of women, the College is an academic community where women develop their talents and prepare to make a difference in the world. Founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1844, Saint Mary’s promotes a life of intellectual VIGOR, aesthetic APPRECIATION, religious SENSIBILITY, and SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. All members of the College remain faithful to this mission and continually assess their response to the complex needs and challenges of the contemporary world.” (Emphasis added)

Nowhere in that mission statement does it say that women are being prepared to be the millionaires of the world. Saint Mary’s women “prepare to make a difference in the world.” And for Saint Mary’s graduates, that is why they attended the college. They want to further educate themselves, learn how to carry themselves with a mature, influential attitude and ultimately become a better woman – all while sharing that experience with women who feel the same.

In a world of constant struggle, the last thing we need to be basing our returns of investment on is the amount of money we earn. We need to be primarily concerned with how we help and serve others, not what kind of house we live in or car we drive. Those things come second, but nonetheless are not impossible for a Saint Mary’s woman to rightfully gain. The women who graduate from SMC are competent, confident, and able to express their opinions in an educated, eloquent manner.

Saint Mary’s College is founded upon high morals and standards, where the women educated are more than a dollar sign with legs. Money isn’t everything, and that is a piece of knowledge that women leave SMC understanding; they are more than just the money they make. Saint Mary’s was wrongfully placed on this list because Saint Mary’s mission is not strictly about the measured return on investment. You simply cannot put a price on countless memories, a sisterhood to last a lifetime, and the confidence and learned ability to take on anything that comes your way. There is no way to measure a Saint Mary’s education in dollar signs; it is immeasurable.

When a Saint Mary’s woman looks down at her hand and sees that special Saint Mary’s class ring, she is constantly reminded of the place where she received a top education that empowered her to be the wonderful Belle that she is.

Therese Burke and Hannah Drinkall are Saint Mary's College Contributors to Her Campus Notre Dame.

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