"The University of California has gone from being a state-funded institution, to a state-sponsored institution, to a state-located institution."
The level at which the State of California funds the university is practically nothing at this point. Alumni donations have filled some gaps but don't nearly cover everything. Tuition has increased to the point where even I, who graduated in 2006, consider it ridiculous. It is now over 8 times the maximum semester tuition I paid.
I can't imagine considering Berkeley a "great value" anymore, as I did when I was there considering the (excellent) quality of education versus the price. It used to be a sense of pride; that a public university could be so great, to prove the experiment, to show that society could produce academic excellence without falling to the vices of money and the divisions that come with it. Now that experiment has failed, and only those who believe in it strongly—the Alumni and supporters—are upholding it, but that's not sustainable.
We need to grow up. This fantasy of American individualism is killing us. We need to grow up and learn how to share—and this is the worst part: as we once did.
Of course, most of this goes toward research, which is probably a big part of why Berkeley hasn't really slipped much (if at all) in graduate standings (UCB actually has more PhD programs in the top 10 than any other university, according to the NSRC). The problem is, what to do with those pesky undergrads.
Stanford and Harvard solve the problem by not enrolling all that many of them, charging a sky-high tuition, and then providing very very substantial financial aid even into the middle class (Harvard will charge 10% of family income to students from families earning between $120-$180k a year). The problem on a societal level is that this doesn't scale, there just aren't enough spots. Berkeley alone enrolls more low income students than the entire ivy league combined.
I'd rather see Berkeley continue this tradition at the undergrad level than emulate an elite private college. But it isn't going to work without state funding. The state just can't demand a huge undergraduate enrollment with lots of low income students and a high (70+%) from California without also kicking in a lot of money.
There's a reason Stanford and Harvard are structured this way - this is the optimal way to run an elite private research institution - more graduate students than undergraduates, and lots of grants and private donations, along with a small but very elite and well heeled undergrad population, with extremely generous financial aid to small numbers of low income students.
Berkeley was different because it was a state supported school with a different mission - and a different and substantial source of funding. You can't keep the first without the second, it won't work.
But now we have programs like "[choose "minority" group] Studies" and we talk those students as seriously STEM.. or worse, we consider the STEM students as an afterthought.
Also, if tuition is now 8x what you paid before, I would suggest that there's a problem with the program itself and not necessarily how we're funding it.
And if you think that the vast majority of people would be willing to pay a little bit more for STEM kids to go to school... I don't even. Very few people out there care what you study in school, and considering some sort of social ROI for undergrad majors is about the last thing on most peoples' minds. Even if there is concrete proof that its better for the whole of us in the first place.
Since society deems people outside STEM qualified to do basically nothing, we should take that as a warning sign that something is very wrong with the system.
It's like if everyone who worked at a restaurant refused to eat there. You have to start wondering what's going on.
(Also, I never said throw out the whole system, that is your straw man.)
If we were to convert to a STEM-only curriculum, I would be gravely concerned for our future.
Amen. I remember this study which said that studying English Lit. reduces police brutality. This makes sense. If a policeman has to read Steinbeck in college, this makes him think about his clients and the nature of the law that he has sworn to uphold.
These things are happening already, and I attribute that partially to the fact that the humanities have already been gutted, intellectually as well as financially.
I'm also not sure why you think critical thinking skills are something that math and science don't require. If you don't have critical thinking skills, you'll have a hard time engineering anything that works or mathing out something correctly. What makes this biased assumption especially weird is the fact that you can actually check whether someone critical thought something out or not to a correct conclusion in the science and math fields. If anything, it's the humanities that need to prove they've anything to contribute to their students' critical thinking skills, because the job market seems to be finding them lacking lately.
The type of thinking involved in STEM is mostly instrumental rather than critical. It's about mastering techniques and learning "how".
Critical thinking, on the other hand, is about asking questions, especially reflective questions that are more "why" than "how". It's about examining taken-for-granted assumptions and considering alternative perspectives.
In general, it's much easier to see your assumptions when you are confronted with people who have very different ones. Every age has its dogmas. Studying history, philosophy, and foreign cultures usually opens our eyes to them.
I was a double english and math (cs-emphasis) major. I went to grad school in Industrial Engineering/Operations research because I wanted to study a field where engineering type thinking is applied outside the traditional engineering fields.
The things I've learned in engineering and science classes constantly influence my thinking outside these fields. For example, I recently did a computer science programming assignment (coursera data structures) about percolation and phase transitions. Immediately, I started seeing the model in so many things - vaccine coverage in a population where people start to opt out, availability of housing, the dating scene as people start to pair off and get married. Any probabilistic process where things seem steady state until the last moment, and then a sudden shift occurs. I know my example may be a little trivial, but that's the point - some of these are silly, and probably very misapplied, but other times, they lead to extraordinary insight. My thinking about a very wide range of things is deeply influenced by may background in math and engineering. I constantly build math models in my head when I read the news. I see it as a basic form of literacy - and you only get it if you really engage with the kind of difficult math typical of STEM fields.
I really think that humanities students are in greater danger of ending up narrowly focused than science students. Even if I hadn't majored in literature, I (like most STEM students) would have had to take a substantial amount of history, art, literature, foreign languages, and so forth as part of my GE requirements in college. The math and science requirements are typically far less rigorous for humanities majors.
It's a terrible mistake to think that math, science and engineering aren't essential components of a broad, liberal education.
Let me just say: math is wonderful. Science is wonderful. You're absolutely right that math provides a rich source of models and metaphors for understanding the most diverse domains. Everyone should study them!
Yet I don't feel the need to sing the praises of math and science. Why? Because nobody doubts their value. But people do question the value of the humanities. They even imply that they are worthless and should be eliminated. And that seriously concerns me, because in my opinion, they are invaluable. They represent a huge portion of our cultural inheritance, and yes, they teach things that are not found in STEM subjects.
Two important things that the humanities teach are history (knowing how we got here and why) and what I previously called "critical thinking". I realize now that that term is too ambiguous. People think I mean something like "good thinking" or "novel thinking", which are certainly present in STEM as well.
What I intended is much more specific than that. It's the ability to question our assumptions about ends. Science asks about how things are. The humanities ask about how things ought to be. It's an alltogether different domain of inquiry.
Whether it is literature, philosophy, painting, or theater, a humanistic work proposes an ideal for human life. Over time, great works in the humanities dramatically alter our collective understanding of what is good and worthwhile. They help us ponder our destiny.
Popular culture does not do that for us. It is driven by business interests and rarely makes detours into the pursuit of serious questions. The humanities do. They are our sincerest and most persistent attempt to get to the bottom of what really matters.
Obviously, no scientist or engineer has ever stopped to ask themselves "why does it..." or "what if it doesn't actually do..." or "maybe it's not x, but y instead?"
It'd be wise to remember that the sciences were once called "natural philosophy."
Liberal arts courses on the other hand are mostly memorization and regurgitation of the ideology currently favored by the academia's current regime. Before they moved to "~ studies" majors, liberal arts majors used to study the works written and drawn by scientists and mathematicians and engineers. It's easy to see why the humanities would prefer "critical thinking" to be redefined as something fuzzy enough to require no original thought or even an attempt at reaching a logical conclusion.
When I studied the humanities, I read Euclid, Galileo, Darwin, etc. The history of science is an essential part of the humanities. Unfortunately, it is not part of "STEM" in the sense that politicians use that term.
Scientific revolutions are definitely a case of "natural philosophy", but that differs dramatically from "normal science" as described, for example, in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I am likewise concerned that movement towards a jobs-oriented STEM curriculum will actually retard the progress of the sciences, by producing more functionaries and fewer deep-thinking scientists capable of innovation.
One of the major discussions in my engineering program is that there isn't a "right" answer like there usually is in regular math.
Instead, there's a "best answer given the current circumstances and limitations."
It becomes entirely about the How and the Why.
Also the school was so heavily STEM focused that I wouldn't trust any of the liberal arts students there to reason their way out of a paper-bag.
However, the questions are still important, someone needs to ask them. Just because business has devalued these sorts of questions does not prove that they are unimportant. This web site is filled, on an almost-daily basis with stories of corporate malfeasance and straight-up incompetence. Yet you are willing to use that broken system as a metric for the value of various sorts of education and thought?
In fact, the lead engineer behind the Hyatt bridge collapse spent a good deal of time with us talking about how poor practices and oversight can cost careers and lives.
Again and again people say that engineering graduates are basically illiterate and that they should be taught to write. This is an excellent example of a situation where "more STEM!!!" isn't a solution. Our problem is over-specialization in undergraduate curricula, and this is evident across virtually all disciplines. But the attitude that "those <insert department here> people are worthless hippies" prevents us from solving this problem.
Education has many uses. Some of them are highly practical (get a job, grow food), and others are somewhat less practical (or, at least, their practicality is less obvious), but just as important IMO (understand society and government, deal thoughtfully with social issues). The ideal would be to educate most people broadly and some more specifically in each area. But inter-area bigotry and dismissal prevents us from achieving that first part.
Beyond that, I think that training people to think about the problems we have as a society and to come up with and advocate for solutions to those problems is extremely mutually beneficial. Partly because of public funding, universities have traditionally been hotbeds of social activism and progress. This won't happen if these institutions are transformed into mere job-training centers.
There are a lot of four year programs that teach nothing more than bland repetition of "white cis straight male bad, trans queer POC woman good" these days. And I say that as someone in several of the latter groups!
Sequestration must have hit universities hard.
I cannot see how they will deal with it. In my department 80 % of the undergraduates go up to medical school. Up to now, the deal was that you had to have some kind of research experience as an undergraduate to be accepted at a decent school, but this is going to change, as grant income is shrinking. No cash, no research, no honour's theses. The current plan is that they hired several new professors in a bid to get grant income, but this isn't going to succeed.
Half of the full professors here have no grants. The social contract has always been that professors pull in grant money, that is what justifies their salary, as compared to teaching-only staff. But now they haven't got grants and won't get any ever, and you can't explain that to the taxpayer.
I don't think anyone has a plan, going forward.
Hell, there was a reality show that visited people doing jobs that made things in the US when they visited the San Francisco fire department's ladder factory. Yes, the SFFD manufactures it's own ladders. (http://www.sf-fire.org/index.aspx?page=1004)
I live in NY, which is similarly insane. The per-pupil costs to send a kid in my small-city school district (plus fund the gaggle of Charter schools) is over $26k/year per student. I could literally send my child to a catholic school for 50% of that, or an elite non-religious private school for about 75% of that sum.
Reminds me of the very first chapter of The E Myth book (good little book if you haven't read it).
Since California clearly didn't want me, I'm going to NY instead now, since they are very friendly to OOS students. (At my public college, tuition is basically free for me after the first year, and even the first year where I have to pay OOS tuition it's roughly the same cost as in state tuition in the crappy flyover state I'm in now.) California should really think about revising their financial aid and tuition policies if they want to be known for being anything other than someplace only the rich can afford. I guess the days of colleges being known and valued for the academic merits of their students are over.
ETA: individualism does not preclude working hard to save resources for your offspring (no strings attached at that), or anyone else you choose to assist entirely at your own discretion. Individualism does not require one start life under a rock and never accept gifted assistance. There is a profound difference between helping those you brought into this world, vs compelling strangers to give up their earnings for people they never met.
> parents providing the other half from what they saved
> American individualism works
are contrary. You didn't do anything on your own to get the money your parents provided. This is not individualism, you relied on your existing social networks to meet your financial needs.
American individualism is great. There is just enough meritocracy so that people who were born with every possible advantage short of a trust fund can feel comfortable saying that they are totally self-made.
Good god man, I cannot imagine typing this and not having my self awareness alarm going off like crazy.
I don't know if you've noticed, but your school costs $60,000/year now.
For comparison purposes, a minimum wage worker employed full-time (forty hours per week for 52 weeks), would earn $15,080 annually. Are you seriously suggesting that someone work for four years in between each year of their college education?
Total Cost of Attendance $57,450
(That does include transportation and "personal expenses", though (to the tune of about $1600/annum).)
* 2000 billable hours
* 3 months summer
* Half-time remaining 9 months.
There other contributing factors as well; for example, the rise of the ridiculous requirement to have a college degree to get anything close to a decent job these days has created tremendous demand for degrees and allowed colleges and universities to raise tuition into the stratosphere.
Why has tuition gone up, then? The state of California has cut its per-student funding to less than half of what it used to be, which leaves a substantial gap even after the cost improvements.
Here are some funding numbers I compiled, via the rough-estimate method of taking the state allocation to the system and dividing by its undergraduate enrollment: http://www.kmjn.org/misc/uc_funding.txt
I feel that people who pay their college on student loans don't really feel the full impact of how much their tuition cost them until it's far too late. People like me feel it all too well. Most of my friends have graduated and have nice jobs, taking vacations in Europe, and going to see the doctor (what I wouldn't give for health insurance...). They criticize me for not having graduated yet. But we'll see which plan pays off in the long run.
You don't give nearly enough credit to what you call "other contributing factors." What happened was an economic sea change. Years ago upon graduating high school you had options. You could go get a job in manufacturing and make good money right away and live a solid middle class life. For many, college was an unattractive option. Today, our manufacturing base has been destroyed. When you graduate high school today, what options do you have besides go to college? There are simply not enough good paying jobs that don't require a college degree to go around. Not even close.
I think ultimately you are mixing up cause and effect. The government is involved in the student loan business because college education has increasingly become the only path to a middle class life. Our education policy is reactive, not proactive. When the government plows the streets of snow it tends to be snowing. It doesn't mean the government caused the snow.
The USA manufacturers more than it ever has. However, it does so with fewer workers, just like the agricultural revolution moved us from 90% of people needing to be farmers to 2%.
When you graduate high school today, what options do you have besides go to college? There are simply not enough good paying jobs that don't require a college degree to go around. Not even close.
I agree with these facts, but probably not your conclusion. A lot of jobs that supposedly require college education really don't require a college education at all. However, since so many people have a college education, employers are free to use the presence of a bachelor's degree as a test for your socioeconomic status.
I wonder who's next, then.
With that in mind, I wanted to just point out that in Australia, all student loans are done through the government and a quick search shows that the average cost of a degree ranges between about $5000 and $10000 a year. I don't know if that supports your statement about the government being "involved in the student loan business" but I figured it may be a helpful piece of data...
From all of that, then, while I can't argue that "The cost of higher-education skyrocketed when the government got involved in the student loan business" (from my original parent's comment) is incorrect, I don't think it's fair to infer that one is necessarily the fault of the other.
Implicitly, of the course, if the underlying problem is more related to the "tuition skyrocketed with the suddenly available capital" comment, then it just comes down to 'greedy higher education' which is its own problem I guess.
People argue that this would mean only rich people would be able to go to college, but I think colleges would rather keep the number of students up high, and not become an extremely privileged institution.
This is very commonly asserted, but no one offers data to back it. Some try to argue it on general supply and demand principles (loans increase demand, supply does not increase as fast, so price goes up), but this fails because that theory predicts prices should rise to the point where supply and demand are equal, yet in fact prices are far below that.
Now most people.of my age have a.degree that only proves you can wipe your ass with it, because most universities here have terrible quality, considering the amount of them grew much faster than we had teachers, and people.are terribly indebted. I pay for example permonth 2 times the minimum monthly wage. And most people stay stuck earning minimum wage until they retire. And I am not a exception, the only people I met that are below 28 and don't have absurd debts are dropouts or child of someone with net worth bigger than. 5 million.
EDIT: In the fields I got my degrees, every year we have more students completing their courses than the total number of employees on those fields in the country...
Or the one that is so absurd to the point of hilarity: Brazil has more law schools than the rest of the world summed, last time I checked in the justice department site, 5% of our population has a bachelor degree in law... (remember Brazil has a 200 million + population)
College on Brazil is alright, the problem is with research culture -- horribly bad. Teachers on universities are rated by how much shit they published instead of the quality of their work.
The academic field is very bad for anybody wanting to study something advanced but at least in computer science, being a undergrad is just fine. You learn the same shit that the MIT does, the problem is 1. the people of your class, 2. your teachers don't do anything interesting to inspire you.
I am talking here about the ones that majority of the population use, UNIP, Anhembi Morumbi, Anhanguera, that sort of stuff...
Also, at 10 mininum wages, you are on the top 4% of the population in income (yes, it is that bad here in Brazil).
It might be easy to get private loans for higher education, as they are for profit and you can't bankruptcy out of them, but I was lucky enough to not need them.
Its more general than that. System wide. Same scenario during the same timeframe in cost of housing, cost of day care, cost of automobiles... Anything involving loaning money from a bank and possibly paying it back, or anything where the .gov hands out money to certain favored groups.
"the rise of the ridiculous requirement to have a college degree to get anything close to a decent job"
At least in the USA there are fewer jobs every year. So its not ridiculous so much as market forces. Also note that society wide (ignoring the very narrow IT code monkey situation solely in NY and SF, I mean country-wide) we produce more college grads than we have job openings.
This is kind of an important lesson for HN startups etc. Yes is it true there is a shortage of IT folks in NY/SF. But in the rest of the country, we're rapidly moving from merely needing any bachelors degree to be a receptionist or call center script reader, to perhaps needing a STEM degree for those kind of jobs. I know experienced and productive STEM people lucky to be working in call centers. The lesson is if you intend to scale your startup outside SF/NY you need to face jobforce realities outside SF/NY. For example say you create a startup to sell to education. Don't do your marketing plan aimed at Ed degree holders (maybe a .edu discount or some kind of viral marketing via sponsorship of alumni activities or something) because most of those grads are either working in the hospitality industry as waiters / bartenders unable to get a job, or got a teaching job and burned out in a decade and are already on their next career. So most Ed degree holders are going to be unable/uninterested WRT your startup. You could aim at people actually employed in the field, which will be a pretty small subset of those educated in the field.
Its tempting, if you're in silicon valley, to try to scale, based on what works in silicon valley where you live. The rest of the country that you're trying to scale into is basically a different, failing economic model. Sometimes this is important when scaling, sometimes it isn't.
Would you take a job that didn't require a degree? How much would you expect to earn?
If the GP had said "A degree is required to (hopefully) maintain your parent's standard of living," which is obviously implied by the context, would you be able to restrain the pedantry?
Give nearly almost everyone a graduate degree, and employers will require a graduate degree for basic jobs.
The upper-class don't care about this; they can afford to keep their kids in post-secondary for 10 years both economically and socially. Even if you waved a magic wand and made college "free" for everyone, this constant credential race would hurt the lower class the most.
I see three (major) factors.
#1 Supply and demand. Manufacturing and agricultural jobs have declined, the population increases, there haven't been enough knowledge and service jobs to take up the slack. So employers can keep raising standards.
I recall how hard recruiting / hiring was during the dot com boom, when my region had near full employment. We were hiring anyone who could spell "HTML".
Now the situation has reversed.
#2 Anti-competitive impulses. Nearly every single person who successfully climbs the ladder immediately turns around and pulls the ladder up behind them. To limit the competition.
I saw this with the ridiculous continuing education requirements for teachers. I saw this when I served on the hiring board, where the members wrote prerequisites & requirements they themselves couldn't meet. I see this in politics where most every incumbent makes challenges ever more difficult. Etc, etc.
#3 Using high requirements as a filter (firewall) in a very high noise to signal environment. The part of hiring I hate most is chewing thru the deluge of resumes that any job posting now gets. I think the buzzword bingo filtering is unfair and doesn't work. Which is why so many people hire thru their social network, routing around the broken HR processes.
The goalposts might be moving faster than the economy, but things have only gotten better.
Which of the factors listed have improved? Note the explicit acknowledgement of these measures done in context, meaning in relative terms. Measuring wealth in absolute terms is unhelpful.
Also, social mobility has been declining for decades. Your personal experience is not the norm.
If you want to measure these things relative to some set of moving goalposts, be my guest. As I said, "the goalposts might be moving faster than the economy". But then discuss moving goalposts rather than "your parent's standard of living", which implies the fixed standard of living that my parent's enjoyed.
 In my parent's era, we had a 2 million member strong terrorist group assaulting random civilians on a regular basis.
Otherwise known as "the neighbors".
You argumentatively, literally interpreted VLM's statement
"At least in the USA there are fewer jobs every year."
While ignoring his obviously correct broader point about rising requirements for job applicants.
I refuted your pedant by pointing out that while there are more jobs, you probably need a degree to get a well paying job.
Then you ignored my question
"Would you take a job that didn't require a degree? How much would you expect to earn?"
and proceeded to pendant about something else, purposefully misunderstanding (or reinterpreting) commonly accepted terminology.
So, please, forgive me, I can't figure out what you're arguing about. Please repeat which broadly accepted obvious point you originally disagreed with (this time).
We have the same upper class problem we had in the same 1920s-30s but they've replaced poverty with subordinacy. They've become more wily and would rather people fall into servitude than fail completely.
When capitalism broke down in 1929-33, people actually died of starvation. Now they go into high-interest credit card debt.
The same is happening in higher education. The need for widespread higher education is too strong for people to just not go, but the upper class isn't going to just give it away (even if there is benefit to them of an educated society). Thus, non-dischargeable loans have replaced taxpayer-funded grants, and college is just at the point of affordability where the upper class feels comfortable with the number of people who can go to school.
That's not true at all: college costs are constantly discussed. The book Why Does College Cost So Much is the most comprehensive treatment of the issue I've seen, and it argues that the main driver of college costs is Baumol's Cost Disease.
It’s that taxpayers back then picked up 90 percent of the tab. We weren’t Horatio Algers. We were socialists.
Universities like the University of Washington are also in a spending arms race: universities are increasing their per-student spending, even in the face of falling state spending: http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/06/04/public_univer... .
A side note: Danny Westneat is something of a joke among people who read the Seattle Times, and it's a mistake to take almost anything he writes seriously. He's the sort of pious liberal that makes intellectually minded and honest liberals crazy because of his tendency to repeat various kinds of half-truths. This is a good example: he's right that if Washington picked up 90% of UW's tab, tuition would be cheaper.
But it's also true that if he'd read more, and read more about the people who actually study this issue, he'd have a more complete picture of the situation. You'll learn more reading this comment than reading his column.
PS: In the University of California system, the per-student cost of providing education has actually gone down: total university-system expenditures divided by number of students produces a number about 20-25% lower today than it was in the '70s, in real-dollar terms.
According to Wikipedia the University of California system as a whole has over ten billion dollars in various endowment categories. More telling is they have over thirteen thousand administrative employees and just over ninety thousand academic employees. That compares to only two hundred thirty six thousand students. Gee, I wonder where the problem is? Two students per employee is a lot of money to make up
state educational appropriations constituted only 12 percent of UC's operating budget in 2010-11 compared to 23 percent in 2001-02. In 2011-12, the state cut UC's budget an additional $750 million.
I lived in one of the states in question, Florida, that a had program called Bright Futures (no longer exists) that provided automatic tuition assistance based on GPA. However, that program, even in the best case, would only cover tuition expense. All other expenses were up to the student to handle.
However, the vast majority of recipients of bright futures left college with debt. With the program done, the amount of debt accumulated has done up as tuition continues to get more expensive and assistance for tuition becomes harder to get.
Both Why Does College Cost So Much? and the link account for inflation; in fact, the last sentence in the first paragraph of the link says, "And, yes, those are inflation-adjusted dollars."
Though not at double digits, I suspect rates went up throughout the 10 years prior (at 48, the article's author probably entered college around 1983). Rates certainly increased at the public universities I attended between 1983 and 1993.
If belief that there is benefit in funding public education makes me a liberal, then that I am. One side of my family moved into the middle class because a paratrooper attended Ohio State on the GI Bill.
(only posting this comment because yours is good. This topic is, at this point, buried, but I figured I'd post anyway).
Anecdote is not data, but I am 48 and entered college in 1983, aged 18 as did many of my academic cohort.
Or are you asking a commenter who disagrees with the article to provide sources for an assertion made in the article?
I work at a college and I am also just finishing putting my two children through college, so I am very interested in the topic. I find the report at http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/Anatomy-of-College... informative. In particular, on page 2 you can see that the steady increases in the cost of college fits with the fact that college is a service industry (or at least it has been up to now).
On page 10 you see in a graph the point that the Seattle Times's article made with an anecdote, that state and local governments have reduced support and families have had to make good the difference. In my mind, just as we as a society pool our resources to build bridges, we also need to produce people who will lead tomorrow (but then, as I say, I work at a college).
If I wasn't majoring in CS (or my Grandfather hadn't died), I would not be going to the school I am. This isn't how the system should work.
A generation was told "go to college, don't worry about how much it costs, just go to college." And the colleges priced accordingly.
Make college debt dischargeable in bankruptcy and you will see real price pressure. No school will expect any student to go more than $10,000 in debt because they'll discharge and walk away.
> Any dorm built or renevated in the last 10-15 or so years will have semi-private bathrooms.
This is true for new construction, but generally speaking older dorm buildings are kept in use and have the exact same experience as ever. Generally the new construction or alternatively designed dorms are more expensive to rent.
> The dining options today are way better than what we had. I trudged down to the dorm cafeteria and ate whatever slop they were serving, high school cafeteria style. My son (at a small public university) has what amounts to a mall food court at school, and he can choose from burgers, pizza, wraps, vegetarian, Italian, Mexican, etc. every day.
Food court style offerings are common, but like a food court you have to pay for anything offered. Typically corporate food chains try to get their place in the court and will wine and dine school administration for the chance to have a captive audience. The cafeteria style food options are still available and are cheaper (yes this food is really awful slop). Worse is that some universities require purchasing some amount of food ahead of time, whether it be a prepaid card usable anywhere or some kind of meal plan for the cafeteria style dining, milking money out of folks who prefer to live off campus and/or make their own food (esp. if they have special dietary requirements).
> The libraries are more functional, the sports facilities are all updated, etc.
This is generally true. Equipment is usually fairly modern and there is staff available most of the time.
The dining options are also much more expensive.
$500 a day might not be all that much (or it could be quite a bit).
My favorite waitress used to eat at a facility like that, after graduation now she's stuck working at a similar facility. A bit too personal to ask, but I imagine its kinda a shock to the system for about 99% of the students.
Unless they think that they cannot possibly go through a reduction in their standard of living and borrow to keep up with what is, in their mind, "normal."
College used to be rare and ascetic. Now it's required and expensive. I don't think either of those are a good trend.
True, most English Lit grads work as waitresses/bartenders, but the few who become tenured college profs are the new landed gentry, paid well above what their peers would get in industry. Which flows uphill, such that only in academia could the boss of a liberal arts major be making more than $9/hr. Of course the system of teaching with adjuncts who are paid less than minimum wage and indentured servant TAs is cutting into that.
There was a time, when teaching didn't pay as well as private industry, but at least you got good benefits and summers off. Since then we got rid of private industry and boosted the pay and benefits in teaching beyond whatever private industry is left, if any.
From the Dept Pub Instruction 2012 report for the salaries for teachers (not admin, not staff) for the school district I live in which is almost perfectly coincident with the boundaries of the city, lowest pay was 24131, highest was 93313, and average was 61223 with an average years of employment in the district of 12.34 years and total years of experience of 13.66 years.
I can't get a straight answer on garbage man pay. I can find quotes between $20K and $60K depending on which political axe they're grinding. I believe the low end is part time / noob / disability and there's a cluster around upper 50s for the full timers who have a couple years in (so we can compare apples to apples, like the teachers with 12 years experience above). Some guys get stuck on overtime, especially around the holidays. So if your axe to grind is they're underpaid for a gross heavy labor job, they're only making in the $20s, but if your axe to grind is they're overpaid for gross heavy manual labor then they make about $60K.
Its hard to compare medians and means and there's lots of fuzzy math.
Minimum wage, 1951: $0.75/hr
Minimum wage, 1981: $3.25/hr
Minimum wage, 2011: $7.25/hr
I'd rather see a basic income guarantee (mainly for creative people like artists or FOSS developers) and the removal of minimum wage, so businesses can correct the true value of labor in various fields.
It would help eliminate the rampant service industry that destroys souls because most people don't have the fortitude to deal with random strangers idiocy.
If we matched minimum wage from 1951, or 1961, we'd need to be paying $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Anybody that has run a liquor store, or a fast food business, understands that's mathematically impossible.
That said, the quality of these things might also go down, but I have a hard time believing our elders got a comparatively worse education/home/car, adjusting for technological advances.
This may be a ridiculously sweeping statement, but I truly believe consumer credit is one of the worst inventions of the modern era, and has drastically reduced quality of life across the board.
2013 Tuition: $12,500
2013 Total: $17,857
1981 Tuition: $687
1981 Total: $6870
2013 Dollars: $17,690 (at 3% inflation)
So the argument is not the cost of education as that hasn't changed in 30 years. Its more who is footing the bill which is implied in the article. Should taxpayers pay for the education?
The sole reason students can get loans totaling $40k or $50k is the government is subsidizing the entire process with guaranteed loans.
Most likely as this soon to be multi-trillion dollar debt debacle explodes, the government is going to end up paying for a lot of that debt via bailouts. They're certainly not going to let that tower of debt truly fall over, so a bailout is the only likely outcome.
Some blame Baumol's cost disease, and that's probably an element of it, but so too are the multiplication of deanlets and deanlings, the cancerous growth of the physical facilities a of every school, spending per student being used as a proxy for quality by the USN&WR, the rise of bidding wars for celebraty faculty, ect.
Much or all these effects are enabled by incentives for those that run universities in which holding costs down play little to no role. That's partially a function of the student loan system and partially a function of lax oversight of "charitable" organizations in general.
Producers who tried to avoid the game got left behind. When the students don't care about the cost, then it becomes a losing proposition to skip out on (say) the $10 million expense that only provides $1 million of value to your students.
In my opinion we need way (WAY) more smart dropouts, people who realize they don't belong in school but stay by fear are just as much at fault.
There's no fear or shame to have, I've been through it and it just disabled poor professionnals from hiring me, which is more of a blessing than anything else.
And of course, it's all debt-free from there on (except I bought a place in Paris before my friends even moved out of their parents').
We need someone to pave the way :). Maybe rising tuition is the way to go. At some point uni education becomes so prohibitive that even the mass may avoid it.
(btw I was not a fighter)
Compared to the farm work, tree planting, and landlording which my father did to pay for University I'm on vacation.
Granted elevated acceptance requirements will get you in the boat with some smart people - for four years of tedium and exasperation but then you'll have the network to build from.
No, it isn't or else you'll soon run out of researchers.
Faculty salaries, however, are much lower since a large percentage now are part time temps with PhDs.
I'm happy to say that at my alma mater (Purdue) the athletic programs are run as a separate business. They don't get one penny from the University general fund. I think they are one of 5 schools like that. Personally, I think every public school should be required to fund athletics separately.
I'm sure there's startup opportunities and risks in this cultural and economic system change.
And college coaches usually make a lot more than college presidents.
Administrators always claim their biggest expense is faculty, I remain skeptical.
>Do they offer a better staff/student relation,
No, and equipment is almost always paid for with grant money.
My own Ivory Tower is a cold-war era brick dungeon with not a single damn window. The A/C system, which used to be great, was designed for 2.5cent/kW/h electricity, and still uses quite a lot of power even though they have disabled the dehumidifier functionality. Buildings are usually bought with local bonds, grants, or endowments.
do they pay their staff better...?
Staff, maybe, faculty? no.
>if I understand the article correctly the (inflation adjusted) amount of money the government provides also has not decreased.
Negatory, at least in Texas, the state has been slashing funds each year for at least the last 4 years. (Texas A&M, UT, were exempt, I think)
The explosion in costs isn't merely on the tuition side. Being on a college campus is to be a captive consumer. Lots of McDonald's, Burger King, Coke/Pepsi, the bookstore is a BN franchise and they get practically exclusive access to students' money. Fin-Aid makes it easy to spend money at the campus bookstore and much harder to use Fin-Aid money outside that ecosystem.
I believe outside the Postdoc instructors, they pay the market rate for staff. You can't get good sys admins on $10/hr but you can make a PhD candidate practically beg for every dollar.
Because for a generation the customers didn't care about the cost. And since they saw cost as positively correlated with quality, any college that attempted cost control was shooting itself in the foot.
(I'm not saying the generation that didn't care about price was stupid; they were responding mostly rationally to other perverse incentives.)
In 1981 minimum wage was $3.31 and tuition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was $832. In 2012 minimum wage for teenage summer jobs ("Opportunity Wage") was $5.25 and tuition at UW Madison was $8,592. Some retail paid more like $8 but that's still a 2-3x increase, whereas tuition increased more than 10x.
Do you mean $10 per hour over the cost of living/driving/eating/etc ?
>The bigger issues are the fact that education you'll receive is likely complete garbage
The lectures are the same, the bar has been lowered too much.
I grew up in the mountains. there were no rich people around. it would be very rare to find a family that my family knew that had a college degree. also my family didn't really have any money and I needed to move out as soon as I finished high school.
I found tech jobs on the internet (yay IRC). I moved to different cities and worked entry level tech jobs. I went to community college at nights and then a state school during the day when I had a job with flexible enough hours. I worked full time and went to school part time and after seven years I should be done this fall, with no student debt (or really any other kind of debt).
but doing this really sucked. no one should have to do it. I've met more people than you would think who were like me. when I started, people referred to me as a "nontraditional" student but I think the "traditional" student is becoming the abnormality...
Colleges then took that massive influx of government sponsored cash and put it to work funding their bureaucracies, building an endless parade of buildings they didn't actually need, significantly boosting professor pay, and accumulating substantial endowments.
Meanwhile the actual education - their product - did not get more valuable. At a time of terrible economic performance, with 14% real unemployment, falling incomes, and lack of jobs post graduation, clearly the cost of an education should have fallen by quite a lot. It didn't because of a guaranteed loan back stop.
There is talk now that students should pay the same low interest rates on their debt that banks pay when they borrow money. If that is put into effect, all it will do is accelerate the debt accumulation. It'll enable students to borrow more, and colleges will accordingly charge more. This government fueled scheme can only end in tears (bailouts).
However, your thesis of more federal funding leading to raising prices doesn't square with my experience, what I understand of the current situation, and many of the sourced comments below. (I currently work in higher ed; funding, tuition, loans, worth of degrees are discussed ad nauseum. Though I sling code, many friends and coworkers deal with the money, budgets, and legislature.)
By "federal funding", do you mean research grants? I dimly recall that during my father's generation, Sputnik motivated huge influx of cash into both K-12 and higher ed. Also, my grandfather's generation benefitted from the GI Bill. Those initiatives lowered student costs.
It's accepted wisdom that our tuition has risen in direct proportion to the withdrawal of state funding. We're currently funded at 9%. It's completely, sadly accepted that we'll eventually be fully tuition funded.
I can't speak to the student loan gouging. Prior generations of students had very low interest rates with lenient payback enforcement. So your point seems counterfactual, leaning on some libertarian "free market" worldview.
OP is mistaken about publicly originated loans and assistance programs, those have been under constant political attack for some time and haven't changed much outside of payout amounts, interest rates, and number of loans made.
(I worked at the cashier's office, so historical tuition prices are still in my memory, but I have no other schools to base this on.)
We recently talked about that. I was surprised to learn that in-state tuition discounts were subsidized by the state. I had always assumed out-of-state students were charged a premium.
I'm told that, in my state, community college students will (likely) continue to get subsidized, whereas university students won't.
Damn you, Ronald Reagan, and your ilk. Policies as demented as he was...
For example, the University of Washington has sustained a state funding decrease of nearly 50% since 2009. In 1990 the funding per student was $17,000 with 82% paid by the state and the remainder by the student, in 2013 the state pays 29% and the student 71%.
The demand for a college educated workforce has also increased since 1990, with the majority of middle class occupations requiring a four year degree. This demand is inelastic, and while it is true that federal student loans make up nearly 90% loans, if supplanted by private loan bodies at higher interest rates it is unlikely that the market demand would decrease.
If you wanted to solve the education cost spiral, the Feds need merely begin reducing the guaranteed funds, stop guaranteeing loans, or strictly lock down the guaranteed loan sums. Colleges would be forced to adjust to that new reality, in which they don't get perpetually increasing tuitions.
And if you want to check the concept, look up how much of a college education is subsidized by government loans today, versus 30 or 40 years ago - personally I think the general answer is obvious.
> "And if you want to check the concept, look up how much of a college education is subsidized by government loans today, versus 30 or 40 years ago"
Graph the price of gold vs. number of sea pirates in the world and you'll also get a correlation. The explosion of loans is highly correlated with rising tuition - the citation part needed is the causal link.
I think that anytime the Feds provide blanket guarantees for loans that can easily be taken advantage of by tens of millions of people, you tend to get substantial price inflation. Particularly when there are no checks on the loans that connect to the real economy.
If you see a student with $60,000 in debt, thank the glorious free market. A good chunk of that was lent by a private financial institution.
I agree schools only let students get $100,000 into debt because someone will lend the money. However, if the markets for loaning money to students dried up, schools would finally face some price pressures.
But if they had more than (say) $20,000 in debt, that is exactly what they would do.
Therefore, no school would let a student get significantly in debt.
Therefore, the school would have to lower prices.
The fear back in the day was that, without some way of holding students to loans, that the students wouldn't be able to get credit, and college would become a rich person's paradise.
I can understand where they were coming from when they were thinking that, but what we've actually gotten seems a much worse disaster than the one they were trying to avoid.
The reasons for making student loans non-dischargeable was based on a theory that only rich students would be able to go to college. However, I think experience has been a very harsh teacher that we got something much worse out of that bargain than we thought.
That's a total of $26,980 not including books, parking permits, clothes, any possible fun, computer, etc.
I made ~$25,000 working a year at jimmy johns as a delivery driver 20 hours a week (averaged $18 an hour), my 40 hour a week summer job ($10 an hour), and my website/youtube income (only $500 or so). This year i'm broke, but I went to a junior college for two years at $4000 a year, saved up, and I should graduate with a bachelors in C.S. with a minor in BioE for a total loan (for two years) I took out myself of ~$50,000.
1-2 years to pay back the loan, did it myself (I did have a cosigner for the loan, but it is still in my name AKA I call it doing it myself because i'm liable and am pretty responsible)
Quite frankly I would rather require each student to take out a loan themselves, than have my future self pay for the students to drink and screw around. My GPA is 3.5/4.0, i'll graduate when i'm 22 (currently 21), I have always worked 20-60 hours a week, I have 110 credit hours and a year to go (i've taken classes every semester including summer), and I have kept a girlfriend even. Its possible, you just have to be serious enough to do it.
OR you could take $100,000 in loans, work 10 years to pay it back ($500,000 by the end with interest).
Part of the reason it costs so much to go to school is so many people default. Do you think I will? Perhaps take some of the pressure off the public to pay, put it on the student and less people will default because only the most serious will go to expensive universities. Like I said, $4000 a semester at a junior college and I honestly think my education there was about the same quality as U of I, I had professors from Argonne national labs, one guy even designed the electronics for the f-18 hornet and taught as a kind of retirement.
Sorry for the rant, but the point is, I did it all myself and all of these comments about how hard or ridiculous it is it is are pathetic. Go to a junior college for a couple years, transfer, take out some loans, pay them back and get off the public's back (too many college students party to consider it a worthy public investment). Although it's harder, its definitely more gratifying to do it yourself.