In the financial vacuum of collegiate lifestyle, we students often complain about the cost of our education.

At $9,780 per semester for in-state students, our semesterly education equates to buying a used 2005 Ford Mustang.

With 16 weeks of class, each hour of instruction is worth $40.75, enough money to buy a handle of Gentleman Jack Daniels whiskey.

Whether you pay attention in your three-hour night class or spend the entire time Facebook stalking your former high school sweethearts, the value remains the same; $122.25 of cold, hard education.

That's enough money to purchase a ticket to see Beyoncé perform live, albeit from the back of the arena.

Thinking about classes in terms of money can change the notion of skipping class from a casual decision to fiscal irresponsibility.

Every time you skip a class, you are essentially making the same decision as someone who would walk past a handle of Jack Daniels without pausing to pick it up.

Considering the fact that tuition has already been collected, the analogy grows even further from common sense; skipping one hour of class, which you have already paid for, is the equivalent of buying that handle of Jack Daniels, walking out of the store and pouring it carelessly onto the street.

Facebook dawdling your way through lab? Might as well buy a ticket to see Queen B and then decide to scroll through your iPhone for the entire show because – oh my! – Susie so-and-so from middle school is pregnant and she just posted pictures of her distended tummy.

Granted, circumstances occasionally demand a student's absence from class. Despite our state-of-the-art student health center, a college campus naturally generates more colds and illnesses than a daycare. Sometimes, the sniffles make the loss of whiskey worth it.

Job opportunities and the pursuit thereof can also take precedence over class. After all, jobs actually lead to salaries. When opportunity knocks, even a ticket to Beyoncé must be sacrificed.

Unfortunately, life-threatening illness or job interviews rarely answer the question, "Where were you in class today?"

More often than not, the answer sounds a lot closer to an appropriate excuse to skip a brunch.

"Sorry man, I slept in."

Thinking about class like this has changed the way I think about my education. I am no longer a high schooler, snoring through Social Studies and furtively texting my friends under the desk.

I am a 20-year-old man, and money has been spent to ensure my education and training. Lots of money. The laziness afforded by free, public education has been replaced by an imperative – get it together or fall behind.

If I ever talk about "the real world," I mentally reprimand myself. The "real world" is here. We are living in it.

Even if you do not follow my logic, any student who willingly and repeatedly skips class ought not complain about tuition hikes. How hypocritical, to bemoan the rising cost of one's education when simultaneously skipping the opportunity to further it?

The fact of the matter is that Chancellor Cheek and his administration have worked hard and successfully to provide UT students the best bang for their $9,780 bucks.

According to UT reports prepared with information from the Chronicle of Higher Education, our university costs about $3,000 less than the average cost of Top 25 universities.

We manage this feat despite some of the lowest state appropriations for higher education in the nation. Last year, the Tennessee state government only allotted $6,795 per student.

Fellow SEC-member states include Florida ($11,658 per student) and Georgia ($8,451 per student).

Keep these numbers in mind next time you find yourself in bed as the alarm clock buzzes. Be grateful for the opportunities UT has managed us. More than that – take advantage of them.

At the very least, stop sleeping through Jack Daniels handles and Beyoncé concerts.

R.J. Vogt is a junior in College Scholars. He can be reached at rvogt@utk.edu.