Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Bottom Line

I know that I usually stick to Korean politics/policy/education issues but I am in fact originally from New York. Today's New York Times ran an interesting article called "Study Finds Public Discontent With Colleges." I agree with the basic premise, that colleges have become far too expensive to be accessible to the average American. However, I don't think solution can simply be admitting more students to each school or stretching the budget more as Tamar Lewin suggests. What about increasing campus energy efficiency, increased tax breaks for families with children in college and more federal funding?

How does France manage to keep their school costs around 5,500 euros a year when ours range between 24,000-50,000 dollars? It certainly isn't through a laissez-faire market approach.

Spaz update: I tripped over a desk in my 6th grade class. Luckily I didn't fall over though I did manage to garner a few giggles from my students.


Josh said...

i'm prone to agree with you on this one..... methinks that all this would do is end up lowering the "bar" for american students... something that does NOT need to happen, i think that people in the US need to be pushed harder to do better. A college education is not a right, it is a privilege to be given to those who earn it.

Nothing worthwhile is free...

Rachel S said...

I too have the family clumsiness. However, I am improving. Back in November I started taking Yoga Classes and I am absolutely astounded how much they work on balance, and strengthening the core muscles and so forth, and it is improving my balance. I also use a Wii Fit and they have a lot of balance exercises and since I started Yoga I have gotten better. Now I am not talking about hard to get into position type yoga, but really what is called by our studio as "Gentle Stretching Yoga" and by the YMCA as Yoga for beginners.

Any chance you could take some Yoga classes where you are?

Anonymous said...

Colleges are too expensive because the gov't assures student loans.

Colleges can charge whatever they want because they get paid. If you take away the socialization of college tuition the schools will be forced to cut tuition.

Previous generations never had huge student loans or loans at all. It was affordable because big brother wasn't involved. It's that simple.

Alex said...

@ Rachel: I too find that when I do things like rock climbing and taekwondo my balance is greatly improved and my clumsiness decreases. I am restarting taekwondo next week and we'll see how it goes. I generally don't enjoy yoga too much though I do like yoga like stretching.

@Anonymous: I disagree. I will have to do some research but college wasn't drastically cheaper back in the day, a simple look at figures doesn't account for inflationary adjustment. Having worked in college offices before (though of course I"m sure my experience won't apply universally across the board) most of the tuition intake barely covers faculty salaries and rising energy costs. Without government financial aid many students wouldn't be able to afford college period. In countries like France and New Zealand where universities have successfully kept the costs down and affordable for students it has in fact been because of increased government involvement, not less.

Anonymous said...

How can you disclaim that our parents never needed loans to go to school? Univerity was affordable back in the day. People graduate these days are are coming out with 6digit debts. These debts are guareenteed by the gov't. Like I said there is no restraint from the colleges as they can charge whatever they like. Look at the technology in the last twenty years. Computers and better logitics;prices should be going down not up.

Take other industries that don't have gov't assurances and involvment. Cell phone companies, computer companies, lasic surgery,plastic surgery, orthodontics, the auto industry for the most part. I can go on and on...all of these industries have scene the quality of products rise and better yet the prices drop significantly I might ad.

It's gov't involvement, everything they involve themselves in ends up costing the consumer more.

Alex said...

My parents came out of school with loans. I think you need to look at concrete examples, not just in our own country but compared with how the system works in other countries to make an accurate analysis. Also, think of the additional costs the schools have to deal with now: computers might be cheaper but 50 years ago the schools did not have to buy a single one. Now they need hundreds, wifi and a myriad of other expensive technology needs to stay competitive.

Anonymous said...

Well in Canada it is subsidized; both student and school. Loans are guareenteed by the gov't and if they go into defalt its taken off any tax return you might get whenever until it's paid. Friends of mine have said it is better to let it go into collection as it's a gov't assured loan. It's a lower interest rate and doesn't show up on a credit report( in canada anyway). A friend of mine is still paying and he is 37 years old.

What I find amazing is the fact that we have such high taxes yet EU-countries have comperable income tax and other federal tax systems yet they get Education literally free.

I guess the gov't either needs to be totally involved or none at all, I guess there is no happy median.

Josh said...

@Anonymous You unwittingly help degrade your own argument.... first i quote, then i elaborate... you said:
"Look at the technology in the last twenty years. Computers and better logitics;prices should be going down not up. "

I'm not sure what your exposure level is to university-scale research laboratories/project/etc BUT if you think about it, the last 20 years of technological advances have quite probably attributed somewhat to the lack of cheap college educations. What i mean by this is that it takes more (faculty) time and funding to ever-higher-tech research but it also requires appropriate facilities.
Also, for someone (like myself) who has chosen to pursue a high tech career the sheer amount of "base" knowledge required to even begin to understand the cutting edge is insane. Courses of a technical nature have to be constantly updated, revised, or even created. The most promising fields now in development require large inter-disciplinary cooperation (think bio-medical engineering). It costs MONEY and lots of it to do this stuff! You can't map the human genome on a bargain-basement laptop. To research the next latest & greatest technology one usually needs the latest and greatest equipment.

As far as loans are concerned... I have good-sized sum myself, and that was just for undergraduate studies.

Anonymous said...

Hi Josh. I understand your argument and perhaps for your area of expertise sure, prices are probably a result of needing state of the art equiptment.

I asked my father recently when he went to college what were class sizes like. He said very small and you actually got personized attention. I think my psy-101 class in year one was 400 students. My point? The majority of the Arts majors classes need not more than a whiteboard, a lecturer and seats. This hasn't changed in 150 years. (other than black to white board)

The use of computer technology has drastically reduced the workload for anyone involved in logistics of any higher education institution. It's made it easy,convenient,user friendly for all parties involved.

But costs still rise, why?

If students couldn't get loans, schools would be forced to cut back. They don't because they get their money regardless; either by grants or by assurance from the gov't. It's a win win for them.