COMMENTARY | Higher education in the USA today has become big business. And, business is all about profit, profit, profit, even if the school is identified as a “non-profit” entity.
I sat down with my parents to discuss the pros and cons of higher education in the US today verses when they were students in the mid ’70s. I was truly stunned by some of the numbers they shared with me.
Both my parents attended the University of Hawaii in 1976. Their average fee was around $120 per semester. Today, I can’t even get a used textbook for that price at the College of Southern Nevada where I attend their culinary program. According to Bloomberg, college costs have increase 1,120 percent in three decades.
In-state residency: It is very difficult to establish residency in another state for educational purposes. Most states require establishment for move to be other than school – that’s where both school and government make their money! One needs to establish working full time, have your own apartment for at least a year before a school considers a student for in-state- tuition. Even then, some schools still make you pay out-of-state tuition.
Out of state students should not have to pay higher tuition fees. Non residents of the “USA” should be required to pay a higher fee. That’s how the system works in most other countries.
Working while attending full-time school: My father put himself through college working at a factory in the summer and part time work during the school year. He can’t understand how he could afford to put himself through school today doing what he did in 1976. As for me, I work two jobs during the semester, with very little sleep to keep me afloat. While most students get into heavy debt with easy government loans, the end result can be taxing as graduation approaches. I have seen some close friends just keep getting deeper into debt as the years roll by, using credit cards to pay off credit cards.
Financial aid: When states abrogate their duty to provide education after High School level and substitute a corrupt financial system in its place, then education becomes a burden rather than something that should free people.
The power and influence private universities have is soaring each year. With government money going to these private entities that cater largely to wealthy foreign students, the imbalance in financial priorities is becoming apparent.
Pell Grants and federal loans provided to low income students can be a blessing in disguise yet they barely graze the surface when it comes to expenses for out of state students.
Decline in standard of education: My parents recall visiting professors from time to time to their college from Yale, Stanford, Harvard and many other educational establishments. Sadly, such visits are nonexistent today.
Textbook rip-offs: Few expenses shock students more than the exorbitant prices of some college textbooks. Many professors today use power point slides while sticking to their guns on “page numbers” and “chapters” from newest edition textbooks. Yet, not all professors lack understanding when it comes to latest edition textbooks. In fact most of my professors encourage us to use old editions.
The fact remains that text information in most subjects hardly ever change dramatically from one year to the next. Just to get the approved “updated” status, publishers add (or subtract) diagrams, move chapters around, include CDs that can only be used one time once they are registered, make it harder and harder to buy used books.
Internet advantages: The advantages of the 21st century are access to the internet!
The Internet has changed the way we learn. With all and any information only a click away, we no longer have to rely on the traditional forms of education.
We can even get our degree online, saving time and money. Tests can be taken online in the privacy of one’s’ home on Chegg.com, students can rent textbooks for a quarter of the price and ship them back at the end of the year.
All said and done, college days are still the best days. Whatever will tomorrow bring?