Is it worth it to attend an expensive college or university? Even professors are coming to the conclusion that higher education sometimes isn’t worth its costs. Claudia Dreifus, a professor at Columbia University, and Andrew Hacker, a professor at Queens College in New York, recently published Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It (book website). The number one reason to avoid an expensive education? Graduating debt-free is more important that graduating with an expensive diploma. Dreifus and Hacker elaborate in an article published in Readers Digest Magazine:
Don’t let your child go into debt for college. In 2010, almost two thirds of undergraduates borrowed money, and student-loan debt outpaced credit card debt for the first time. The College Board likes to say that a typical senior graduates with “only” $24,000 in debt, but with interest, collection charges, and penalties for postponed payments, the amounts owed can exceed $100,000. If you ever default on a federal student loan (and the rate of defaults is rising), you’ll be hounded for life. Lenders can garnish your wages, intercept your tax refunds, and have your professional license revoked. You can’t work for the government or collect your social security. “People have been sold this propaganda: ‘The rates are so low; just get a loan,’ ” Dreifus says. “The long-term effect is to cripple your children.”
Funny how that parade of horrors–creditors hounding graduates forever, having your professional license revoked, and being barred from working for the government–is never part of any college’s brochure.
Dreifus and Hacker offer other reasons not to attend, and many of them boil down to one fact: your tuition dollars fund everything but education. Highly paid professors and administrators. Money-sucking sports teams. Luxury living amenities. (The article already has more than 400 comments–clearly, this is a controversial issue.)
My alma mater was no different. The university touted its connections to a former president, a world-renowned religious leader, and a famous author in order to lure students to attend. The vast majority of students would never even have the opportunity take a class taught by one of these “professors.”
And the luxury amenities were over the top. Multiple swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), an enormous gym with a rock-climbing wall, dozens of tennis courts–in effect, a country club on a college campus. I lived better then than I have since. While colleges and universities need to compete for students, does it really make sense for them to compete on these grounds for money subsidized by the federal government?
Things need to change.
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