As another school year starts, let’s take a few moments to reflect, however briefly, on the state of education in the United States. In times when Republicans and mainstream Democrats can’t seem to agree on much of anything, one issue oddly seems to unite them. That issue is education, specifically higher education. From both political fronts, there’s a mounting critique towards the university, public and private.
For starters, the average college degree (combining private and public) is about $35,000 per year. To put this in perspective, if the tuition trends keep up at the rate they’ve been going since 1982, a third grader today should expect to pay more than $306,000 for a private college and over $135,000 for in-state university.
But that’s not all, according to a Bloomsberg article published in 2012, college tuition increased by more than 1,200% since 1978. The cost of college has risen faster than the price of cars, housing and even far outpaces medical expenses. There are many factors that explains this, but what has galvanized both the conservatives and liberals is the problematic of the sheer, exorbitant costs of tuition, which raises the question: Is college worth the investment? This question is even more acute when measuring the merits and learning outcomes of spending four years inside the Ivory Tower, which according to Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s book, Academically Adrift are incremental at best.
In the end, what we’re left with is a…