Occupy Wall Street? How about occupy Higher Education?
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about price tags. Everything from the cost of health care to the cost of a hamburger has been in the spotlight for itâ€™s fifteen minutes of fame, covered excessively, and then dropped like a hot potato, only to be picked back up on a slow news day.
And there has been a lot of talk about how we should handle these problems as they come up. Should we match the prices? Ask olâ€™ Ben Bernanke to pump some more money into the economy? What about subsidizing prices on certain commodities?
With all this talk, itâ€™s starting to seem like America is just one big economics book, being read through page by page. Not quite.
There has been a lot of talk about prices, I will give you that, but there has been nearly nothing mentioned in regards to the price of school.
And this, America, is ridiculous. For something so important to our future and prosperity as education, why have we focused our attention on the price of a Big Mac rising rather than the price of a diploma?
Just to give you an idea as to how much the price has skyrocketed, hereâ€™s a pop quiz:
Since 1982, how much has the price of college increased?
Trick question; the correct answer is not listed above. Since 1982, the average price of gaining a college diploma has risen a staggering 439%. Thatâ€™s right, 439%. And it makes you feel even better when you look at the average growth of a familyâ€™s income since 1982. That factor has only risen a measly 147%.
In other words, the cost of a higher education has outpaced the income for a standard household by a factor of three. And this rise doesnâ€™t show any signs of slowing down.
A tuition of fifty thousand dollars per year, something that would have been seen as simply ridiculous, is now the average price of some of the â€śbestâ€ť universities in America. The title of most expensive? According to Forbes, that goes to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., with a whopping $57,556 per year. And that price tag doesnâ€™t even include entertainment and books. That is going to cost you an extra two grand.
And that cost is too much. How is a person expected to go into the working world when they start with an internship or salary so low it is laughable, and then expect to pay for anything when they have a pile of student loans hanging above their heads? They simply canâ€™t.
With all this talk of economic reform, this is something that shouldnâ€™t even be an issue. If we want to put our best minds through a system that is meant for the best minds to go through, we have to remove the game show of scholarships and loans that no one really wins.
This is our white elephant in the room. As the price of college silently climbs to astronomical prices, we sit by and pay the price, both literally and metaphorically. If you want to reform anything, start with this. Then you might get the minds needed to tackle the other issues.
America, this is decision time: is the price going down, or are the cries of protest going to get louder?
The choice is up to you, reader, and I would love to know what that choice is. Seeing as Iâ€™m packing up and moving off to college next year, I admit I might have an inherent bias. Is the price of college really that big of a deal?
Leave me your two cents in the comments below.