The Value of a UK Education

Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018

Earlier this academic year, Business Insider recognized the University of Kentucky as the most affordable, highly-ranked college in Kentucky.

Their recognition—describing us as the best value in Kentucky—is increasingly important in a national context for higher education’s value proposition to students and the state that supports our work.

To be sure, value encompasses more than just cost, though accessibility is vitally important to who we are and what we do. In the last six years, we have doubled the amount of institutionally-funded financial aid that we provide. In addition, we’ve taken a thoughtful approach to intently addressing issues of unmet financial need that may hinder students’ ability to make progress toward graduation.

Value also is, in an importance sense, about benefit.

At the University of Kentucky, we strive to provide our students with a transformational education that prepares them to enter the workforce, ready to lead lives of leadership, meaning, and purpose.  

Today, for example, the University of Kentucky is one of only eight universities in the country with the full range of undergraduate, graduate, professional, and medical programs on one contiguous campus. That breadth and depth of disciplines has made us an educational proving ground for Nobel Laureates and the National Book Award winner, as well as state poet laureates and winners of the Pulitzer Prize. Our faculty members across disciplines are working—with students—in communities to improve cancer-screening rates and address opioid addiction and chronic illness. They are using the latest computational science technology to unlock the treasures of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Paris. They are providing their skills to improve drinking water in Central and South America. 

These are the kinds of transformational experiences students can expect at the University of Kentucky. These are the benefits: learning outcomes, professional skill sets, and cultural competencies that prepare our students to succeed in companies like Google and in organizations like the New York Metropolitan Opera.

However, those are more than mere numbers or a litany of accomplishments. In an increasingly complex, diverse and interdependent world, it matters that a place exists where world-class poets and writers conduct their labors minutes away from nationally renowned scholars and researchers in cancer and energy, opera, and psychology.

It matters that undergraduate students have the opportunity to engage in undergraduate research, to be mentored by world-renowned scholars, and to take advantage of opportunities only available at a land-grant, flagship institution like UK. 

Take, for instance, Jake Ingram. A mechanical engineering student at UK, Jake’s dream job was to build a space shuttle. Two years after graduating, that dream became a reality.

At only 25 years-old, Jake recently landed a position at SpaceX, where he is helping to build rockets that will send humans to Mars. At UK, Jake says he learned vital collaboration skills, which have helped him to be able to work with a variety of people from different cultures across the country.

Jon Carloftis is another example. He is a graduate from the UK College of Communication and Information.

In the late 1980s, he moved to New York City, where he found success as a rooftop garden designer. He designed gardens for celebrities such as Julianne Moore, Edward Norton, and Mike Myers over the years. Now living back in the Bluegrass, Jon credits his success to the skills he learned both from the College of Communication and the horticulture knowledge he gained from the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. Locally, he is part of an investment team restoring a historic bourbon distillery into the new Castle and Key brand.

Look at Hannah Ellis, another graduate from UK’s College of Communication and Information. After graduation in 2012, Hannah took a step out of her comfort zone and moved to Nashville, to pursue a career in the music industry. 

In a few short years, Hannah has achieved a great deal, including admission into the prestigious “Next Women of Country” program, from Country Music Television (CMT) last month. Hannah gained the value of hard work and dedication at the University of Kentucky, which she has brought with her into the music industry.

These alumni make us proud. They also illustrate our role as the University for Kentucky: the Commonwealth's indispensable institution.

As we move forward, we are committed like never before to providing the best value and transformational experience through teaching and learning, care, creativity, and discovery.

It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

It’s what we will continue to be for our Commonwealth and those we serve.