Wednesday, September 16, 2009

College ate my life savings!

By Jonathan Tse

Everyone knows that the price of attending college is continuing to skyrocket as the years go by. Why is this monster called college continually growing in appetite, and charging such high tuition rates? Tuition rates have increased 10-fold since 1977, and have been increasing by around 4-6% every year. This year, tuition rates have increased by a 37-year low of 4.3%, which is just a little bit higher than the current inflation rate. The problem is that a third of students do not get scholarships, grants, or financial aid and have no choice but to pay the full tuition price. What is the reason for this outrageous inflation of college tuition?

Everyone seems to think that the correlation between a high ranking college and price is linear. This type of thinking has created a trend in colleges and universities in which all schools want to look like mansions. Colleges are spending more and more money to improve their appearance and facilities so that they can attract more students to their school. This works because people think that since a school looks great and costs a lot of money, it must be a great school and worth the cost. This increase in prices would be more acceptable if schools were using the money to improve the value of the education that they provide, but this is not the case. Also, colleges are unwilling to cut their spending. They continually add departments and professors, but due to political and other issues, they are not willing to cut any of the more expensive and small departments. Also, it seems that there is a problem with the productivity of the professors. They are more interested in research than their classes and are not willing to take on more classes and do a little less research. Also, many professors are found to not change their teaching styles and teach courses in the same manner, over and over again.

There is clearly many things going wrong with the rise of college tuition prices, but luckily some seem to sense this. Some colleges and universities like Harvard and University of California-Berkeley have created rules in which people under certain income levels do not have to pay tuition or pay a discounted fee. The richer schools have slowly begun to cut costs and offer incentives but for now this is still not enough to stop this upward trend.

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