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Are Colleges Worth The Price Of Admission?

4200 words - 17 pages

In the past several years, there has been a growing trend in the number of college-bound individuals getting two-year degrees from community colleges or earning certification for their desired career field at vocational schools. Such schools certainly seem to have some valuable qualities: all boast of having lower costs than other colleges, of their absence of student loans, of allowing people to make more money quicker, of being narrowly focused so students don’t have to take classes they don’t need. They attempt to point out apparent weaknesses in liberal arts colleges as well, claiming that such an education is unnecessary in today’s world. However, for every reason to go to a community or two-year college, a vocational track, or an apprenticeship, there is another, stronger reason for going to a traditional, four-year college, and the liberal arts degree gained at four year colleges far outstrips the degree gained at a two year school or through a vocational track.
Community colleges and vocational tracks are not wrong about the high cost of traditional higher education. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, one year at a public, four-year institution costs upwards of $23,000 on average, while private institutions will cost nearly $10,000 more on average. Coupled with the fact that prices at public institutions rose 42 percent and private institutions rose 31 percent between 2001 and 2011, it’s not a shock that parents and students alike worry about paying for college. However, this won’t always be the case, as this rise in prices simply cannot continue the way it has. Eventually, people will be unable to pay the price that colleges charge. They will either settle for community colleges, get greater and greater student loans, or simply will not pay because they cannot afford to. None of these solutions will work long term, but all of them, with the possible exception of student loans, will hurt colleges, hopefully enough to force them to lower their price tag.
There are simple ways that colleges can lower the cost to students, solutions that may not change the entire higher education system, but changes that certainly will help. In their article, “Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission?”, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Driefus, professors at Queens College of the City of New York and Columbia University respectively, attempt to lay out several solutions to ‘fix’ college for the benefit of students. One of their first cost-related proposals is to do away with the tenure system. “Professors who possess [tenure] have no reason to improve their teaching, take on introductory courses, or, in fact, accept any tasks not to their liking” (181). With the removal of tenure, longtime professors who are paid astronomical amounts will be subject to the same scrutiny as all other professors, and when professors who are no longer teaching well are removed, professors with smaller payroll and better...

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