Previous posts in this discussion:
PostHigher Ed Costs; from Noah Rich (John Eipper, USA, 03/16/15 1:12 pm)
JE: Noah Rich is an undergraduate at Ohio University, Athens, where he works as an assistant to WAIS stalwart Robert Whealey. Noah sends these thoughts on Higher Education costs:
Randy Black (15 March) sent his personal account as an example of how hard-working and grit-filled his generation must have been. And I'm sure there were many others like Randy, but can he really just umbrella his own story to cover for all those in his generation? That's one story supposedly accurately representing the generation of several millions? I'm not sold.
Henry Levin (also 15 March) is somewhat guilty of the same thing. He's seen students with smartphones and nice cars or expensive iPads, etc., and he's more or less scooped all of my peers into that very group. Surely those who live luxurious lifestyles are a decent chunk of the college student population, but they're not all of it.
There are some really funny pictures I always enjoy referencing when having discussions on this topic. (I thought WAISers might enjoy these.). Here are a few:
John Eipper mentioned the fact that some undergraduates accumulate $150k in debt from college. And while this is an unfortunate reality for many students, I find it very frustrating that students continually choose to go to expensive universities when they can get just as respectable degrees from a place that is far cheaper. There is a reason I chose OU (Ohio University) over OU (Oklahoma). I enjoyed my visit to Oklahoma far more than Ohio University, but I'm not going to choose to pay $12k more a year for the very same degree from a different place, albeit one that is a little more "reputable." The work I put into my degree will separate me from the others, not where my degree came from.
Although as a side note, I think this is only really applicable when talking about the "middle of the road" universities. Obviously the Harvard degree is always going to be valued more, even if I and the fellow who went to Harvard studied the same field. But between Oklahoma and Ohio? Not so much.
JE comments: Although I interact with "Millennials" every day at the College, we seldom get their perspective on WAIS. Thank you, Noah. Since I work at a "middle of the road" college, I fully agree that what you know is what matters, not where you learned it. But at the same time, we can never overlook the pedigree factor. No matter what they say, a Stanford, Harvard, or Columbia degree will move your résumé higher up on the pile.
Great hairdo on the Baby Boomer guy, by the way. I had more or less the same coiffure in 1979.
Higher Ed Costs; Ric Mauricio Responds to Noah Rich
(John Eipper, USA
03/17/15 4:57 AM)
Ric Mauricio responds to Noah Rich's post of 16 March:
Ah, a very interesting discussion on the cost of education. And kudos to Noah for pointing out that one cannot really lump together an entire generation. However, the cost of education as well as healthcare has far outpaced that of the government-generated inflation rate, while income has not kept up, especially in the last ten years.
My education at San Francisco State was fully paid for by the US Government, courtesy of my dad's GI bill benefits. I guess that's a small consolation for not having known my dad, a Korean War hero and Silver Star recipient.
But fast forward to today. My son went to the prestigious University of Southern California film school. Yes, prestigious, like having the names Lucas, Spielberg and Zemeckis plastered over several buildings. Yes, one does pay a premium for this prestige. Today, the published list price for USC is $65,000 per year, including room and board, transportation, books, tuition and fees, etc. The film school, with its materials requirement for filming, tends to add to that. So multiply that out, folks. My son attended junior college for two years, then transferred to the undergraduate program, which he completed in 2 1/2 years, then went on to his Masters in film, another 2 1/2 years. 5 years times let's say $50,000 (since this was a few years ago and yes, there is some limited student assistance) and that comes to $250,000, $175,000 of which was covered by loans.
My son was accepted into five universities, which included USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, NYU, Cal State Long Beach, and UC Irvine. We toured all 5, even taking the red eye to New York (now I know why they call it the red eye ... ughh!). When he chose USC, my wife asked me if I had thought that would be the school he would choose. My response, was, of course, it was the most expensive one.
But we made it through. My son lived frugally and was able to pay his loans off with a little help from us and investments. But not willing to make Noah's point of placing an umbrella over a generation, I would say that my son is an exception rather than the rule.
JE comments: Liquidating $175K in student loans is a monumental achievement. Please congratulate your son, Ric!
Ric has put his finger on the two unsustainable skyrocketing products in US society: health care and education. I have some theories on why education has gotten so expensive, but that discussion is for another day. For now I'll make just one point: it's not because of faculty salaries!
Higher Ed Costs; the Importance of ESL
(Tamara Zuniga-Brown, USA
03/18/15 1:31 AM)
I agree wholeheartedly with the points made in this discussion, and would like to add a sidebar on international students and their impacting role on the soaring costs of university tuition.
According to a joint study in 2013 by the US Departments of Commerce and the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Open Doors 2013 publication, over 900,000 international students from more than 200 countries contribute more than $24 billion to the US economy. http://www.iie.org/en/Who-We-Are/News-and-Events/Press-Center/Press-Releases/2013/2013-11-11-Open-Doors-Data
It is wonderful to see countries like Saudi Arabia and China investing heavily in their youth and future leaders. But, I am deeply saddened that due to changing business practices at our institutions of higher learning over the past two decades, Americans can barely afford the cost of educating their own children and "cadre" of future leaders. Further impacting are the "ESL adjuncts/ part-timer lecturers" teaching the vast majority of these students. They earn a mere hourly wage far beneath the "alarming snapshot" of the "Just-in-Time" university professor living at or below the poverty line the Congressional report brought to light last January, and most definitely cannot afford to educated their children.
Resource allocation to the programs that support ESL students is usually as dismal.
Here is some food for thought to add to the "complex web we weave." As an indisputable gateway, ESL professionals serve as the critical first line of an international student's linguistic and acculturation process. We represent, instill and perpetuate American social and cultural norms and values in compelling and transformative ways. As a result, and perhaps of even greater significant measurable social impact, are the millions of foundational memories and first-hand impressions being generated as these young international men and women anchor their lives with their respective institutions of higher learning, and with America. These highly impressionable young global minds are learning daily non-academic lessons, too. They are carefully observing first-hand, and experiencing person-to-person, life-impacting social, cultural, political and economic realities. They are taking note as they harness the power of social media and networks to document and generate powerfully impacting images and messages of their experiences to family, friends, and governments across the globe at the speed of light.
I'm not sure if many of you were aware that National Adjunct-Faculty Walk Out Day was February 25. Believe me, my students were horrified, shocked and disappointed to learn about this situation at our institutions of higher learning and have begun using the critical thinking skills they are being taught.
Here are a few more stats to include in the discussion:
From this week's Economist:
"College in America is ruinously expensive"...."They erect sumptuous buildings, lure star professors with fat salaries and hire armies of administrators. In 1976 there were only half as many college bureaucrats as academic staff; now the ratio is almost one to one. No wonder average annual fees at private universities have soared to $31,000 in 2014, a rise of around 200% since the early 1970s. Each new graduate in America is now about $40,000 in debt. People who take costly arts degrees may end up poorer than if they had never been to college."
JE comments: I fully concur with Tamara Zúñiga-Brown's argument that ESL (English as a Second Language) instructors are first-line ambassadors of US values and "soft power." Their students often (but not always) represent the elite of their respective nations, and will rise to positions of power and decision-making. Therefore, shouldn't we invest more in these faculty? ESL programs are at the bottom of the food chain in just about every institution I'm familiar with.
Does it make any sense to throw resources at "armies of administrators" (as per the Economist, above) and place international students in classrooms with egregiously underpaid and often disgruntled teachers?
- Higher Ed Costs: one Immigrant's Story (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/18/15 1:56 AM)
On this topic of how some WAISers have financed their higher education, I have something rather embarrassing to confess. Upon arrival in the US, after going around the country on a "99 days for 99 dollars" Greyhound bus ticket, I was lucky to catch the attention of my future American parents Bill and Belva Hall in Pasadena, California. My American mom noticed my hunger for knowledge at the Caltech library. My American parents offered to sponsor me to study in America and sent me to Pasadena City College with almost all expenses paid. What a fantastic gift.
My American parents were struggling financially, so after a few semesters I moved out and went on my own. I got a full taste of not having a full-time job and having to pay out-of-state tuition. Those were difficult times. Close to graduation I caught the attention of a brilliant retired lawyer named George Juett who was also my law professor. He offered to send me to USC to talk to the Business Administration Dean (a personal friend) about a scholarship. At the impressive USC School of Business, the Dean visited with me for a few minutes and passed me on to his assistant, who got the paperwork going for a half-grant, half-loan scholarship. I told her that my Brazilian mother always told me not to borrow money, so I could not accept the loan. That ended the conversation, I am sure with the dismay of the Dean's assistant.
Since any form of state welfare would be unthinkable to me even during those very difficult times (I even ate high-protein dog food but cat food was more palatable), and no student loans were allowed, I had to get a better-paying job. However, to work legally I had to change my visa from student to immigrant worker and that took many months. Nevertheless, I was so grateful for the opportunity to learn unlimited knowledge in the greatest nation on earth, among such generous people who made it all possible. After I earned my AA degree, B.Sci., and an MBA, I went back to Brazil for a month to decide if I wanted to be Brazilian or American (no dual citizenship allowed in those days).
JE comments: Jeez, I never knew about the dog food aspect of Tor Guimaraes's student days. Fortunately I never experienced that level of poverty, although 50-cent cans of tuna (in those days) smelled about the same as the aromatic Friskies "classic paté" I now feed the cats. Tuna (for humans) presently runs about a buck a can on sale, but the Friskies is still 50 cents. On a somewhat related topic, I read in the latest Time magazine that at official exchange rates in Venezuela, dog food costs over U$300 per bag.
I bet WAISers have many stories of student penury to share. What exactly is "mixed grill"?
- Does an Elite Education Result in Higher Earnings? Not Really (Henry Levin, USA 03/17/15 6:19 AM)
For those expecting a unique payoff for attending an elite college, beyond the payoff to their SAT or grades or other characteristics, the evidence is disappointing. The best single study shows that once controlling for other performance criteria, the average student at an elite institution gets no earnings premium from attending such institutions.
The exceptions seem to be for Blacks, Hispanics, and students from lower income backgrounds where there is some payoff. But, on average, there is not.
JE comments: This is heartening (and frankly to me, surprising) news, especially for those of us trying to recruit students to middle-tier institutions.
- Benefits of College Education (Francisco Ramirez, USA 03/17/15 6:29 AM)
In response to Noah Rich (16 March), you need to understand that as one gets older one tends to suffer from the Golden Age syndrome. In my generation we walked miles to school. We walked without shoes... without feet.
At 69 I feel the Golden Age sirens calling, but I am tied to my ship to prevent the Sirens from taking over.
There is clear evidence that getting a college degree is an economic plus, regardless of your gender or ethnicity. The evidence is less clear on the elite university advantage. The debate here is in part whether where you study is more important than what you study. A recent issue of The Economist suggests that what you study may generate a greater rate of return.
Attached is a good review of the literature on higher education payoffs. The review is mostly in English--that is, relatively free of jargon.
JE comments: This study from Michael Hout (UC-Berkeley) should be required reading for every high school student. (But how do you get them to read? That's another question.) College-educated people earn more, live longer and more healthily, have happier families, and are better citizens. It's one of those extremely rare cases of a win-win-win-win. Hout's work should drive a few nails into the coffin of the nascent "who needs college?" movement.
- Higher Ed Costs: one Immigrant's Story (Tor Guimaraes, USA 03/18/15 1:56 AM)
- Higher Ed Costs; the Importance of ESL (Tamara Zuniga-Brown, USA 03/18/15 1:31 AM)