College cost/benefit skewed

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It is past time to rethink higher education, particularly cost/benefit – in terms of utility, return on investment, contribution to social/political/economic advancement and stability.

Are we building more stately mansions for our souls or for our egos?

Just for kicks, go to the web and look up the tuition costs alone for a full semester at Augusta State University, or Georgia Military College, or any online university of your choice. In round numbers it will be $3,000 for 16 semester hours – times eight for a bachelor level degree, or $24,000, That’s not including living expenses – $12,000 a year, at least, or $48,000 for the same bachelor’s degree, to enter a job market at $16-24 per hour with a debt of $72,000. Include rent at $7,200 a year for a one-bedroom apartment, $7,600 a year for a car and insurance not including gas, and $8,000 a year for debt reduction.

Now add a professional degree: medicine, law, dentistry, optometry, theology – the list could go on, all costing into the high six-figures.

What about a newly minted cardiovascular surgeon? He or she will have a very high six-figure debt, and the only prospects are to join as a junior in a large group practice – where the old “guys” can’t quit because they lost their nest eggs in the market four years ago – or to become a “house” doctor in some for-profit hospital chain. All this, while the guy who invented compound interest is cleansing his palate with Dom Perignon.

We, the taxpayers and the beneficiaries of these newly minted professionals, need to say “stop” already. What we want built is men and women of skill and sterling character – not bigger, fancier, costly monuments to some imported ego.

I am 87 years old, and if it weren’t for the professional skill, care and empathy of professionals educated and trained at state-funded universities, I would have been dead 20 years ago. In those 20 years I have helped three grandchildren into careers of their choice. I want my great-grandchildren to have the same opportunities I had, my children had and my grandchildren had.

As things now stand, every stately mansion of today will be obsolete within the next 20 years. Then what? Tuition at five to 10 times the costs of today. The best I can do is urge my great-grandchildren to learn Chinese and get an MBA, or be happy with a Moon Pie and a Coke.

Tom Zwemer


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Techfan 08/01/12 - 06:49 am
The US corporations no longer

The US corporations no longer want educated people who can think on their own. They want wage slaves who are so scared about losing their jobs they won't complain, rock the boat, or come up with new ideas.

TParty 08/01/12 - 08:09 am
You can see the correlation

You can see the correlation of debt students are allowed to get into, with the rise of cost in colleges. There was a time you could work part time and pay your way through college. Not today. When there is so much money to be made from students- it's no wonder the costs are outrageous.

ReleehwEoj 08/01/12 - 09:18 am
So true

Tparty wrote: "There was a time you could work part time and pay your way through college."

I did it and many others I knew were also doing it in the late 70's early 80s graduating from college debt-free. My kids benefited from "the Hope" but I paid for all of their other expenses. Many of their peers who are not fortunate enough to have family bankrolling their education are in debt up to their eyeballs just from pursuing a bachelor's degree. I can tell you the difference in total cost of attending a 4 year college between 1980 and now is tremendous. One factor in that difference is that the average college student in 1980 maintained a lifestyle and standard of living far below that of my children and their peers.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 08/01/12 - 11:55 am
Compound Interest

Mr. Zwemer, you should counsel your great-grandchildren to become investment bankers so that they, too, can cleanse their palates with Dom Perignon.

harley_52 08/01/12 - 03:46 pm
The Best Advice....

....for most children graduating from high school is to get a job that will help them learn a skill, or trade, and forget about a college degree and mountains of debt. If they can't learn their skill/trade on the job, then go a few semesters to a technical school.

Too many kids get into college, borrow lots of money, and get a degree in basketweaving (or some other such unsalable major) and end up broke, jobless, deeply in debt, and flipping hamburgers.

In my opinion, of course.

harley_52 08/01/12 - 03:51 pm
As For The Practice Of Medicine....

....once Obamacare takes hold....

Forget everything you think you know now about a career in the medical field. Before it's all over the government will be paying people to go to medical school, telling them what they'll study, whether they'll specialize, where they'll practice, what hours they'll work, and how much they'll be allowed to make.

Carleton Duvall
Carleton Duvall 08/01/12 - 10:03 pm
True Harley

Unless the majority uses their heads and votes the dems out of office starting with the White House.

batya 08/02/12 - 01:05 am
I am a "non-traditional"

I am a "non-traditional" student at ASU and can tell you the cost has increased every year. But instead of raising the tuition a huge amount at the time, the Board of Regents instead allows the colleges to raise and add institutional fees to outrageous amounts, and pat themselves on the back saying "we only increased tuition 3% in this year." We all have to pay for transportation fees AND parking, whether we drive or ride the shuttle, or none of the above. We have to pay athletic fees whether or not we even care to go to any games. Then they added an "institutional fee."

Cost difference (per semester) from 2008 to 2012: transportation- 3.00 to 35.00; athletic fee- 130.00 to 145.00; Institutional fee- 0 to 235.00; and add in lab fees for the sciences too. Technology fees, student center payback fees, and student activities fees did stay the same at 45.00-50.00 each.

THEN, don't even get me started about the textbooks! Several of the classes require students to buy a book that is published by then it can't be bought or rented elsewhere (of course changing editions constantly, because you know that the caption change under one picture warrants getting a new book). You'll average about $500-1000 in books per semester, depending on classes and load.

But the kicker is that the oncoming freshmans were told this semester that once the consolidation is official next year to expect the tuition to increase by 65%...per the FAO. Couple that with the financial aid eligibility amounts decreasing, only the wealthy elite will be able to go to college soon. No one can afford this even working a job through college....

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