Is a college education worth what we’re paying?

By Kristian Gecaj, Staff Writer

Getting a college education is more expensive than it has ever been. And it will probably continue to become more expensive. In fact, tuition has actually doubled since the 1980s, but does anyone think the value of that education has doubled during the same time period?

One could argue the value of a college education has decreased because there are more people who get a college education, not to mention the internet’s existence has created a world wide library of knowledge at any time for anyone who needs it. Americans have accepted paying hyperinflated tuition.

While colleges have definitely improved since the ‘80s, I don’t think their current asking price is a fair one. I think tuition keeps increasing simply because colleges can charge whatever they want. There is no cap on tuition in America like there is in other countries such as the U.K. And in that sense, colleges are run like businesses. However, running a college with a model most in tune with making profits isn’t the best way. It’s elitist because it tells young adults they do not deserve the opportunity to learn and better themselves for the future if they cannot afford the clearly exorbitant price. I’m not shopping for a brand new yacht; I’m trying to educate myself here.

This approach values money over wisdom, when wisdom is really what is essential to the model of a university. Colleges should have the world’s smartest minds coming up with the best ideas on how to push an idea forward into mainstream culture. By increasing the price, you limit the people that can afford to attend. And so, instead of capping tuition rates, universities are placing a cap on the potential of people, essentially saying that poorer people aren’t as valuable in higher institutions of learning.  

This is wrong as the most successful people often come from the worst environments. Having people from all different backgrounds is essential for the pursuit of true learning because there is a lot more you can learn from a person who grew up in a completely different situation than you. They will have different experiences which will have shaped their different opinions. Only by learning and understanding their view and the context it comes with can we truly see the right answer and, in turn, actually do what a university is supposed to do.

If you agree with the premise that more people educated correctly is better for society than fewer people educated correctly, then you should agree colleges should at least be fairly priced so that the benefits of the degree accurately reflect the price.

I think any college that is serious about the pursuit of knowledge tries its utmost to learn from whomever they can and try to be inclusive so that they can discover the truth. Colleges that aim to increase prices and have a more limited clientele are not interested in knowledge for knowledge’s sake. They are more interested in knowledge for a specific purpose, such as making money.

While I personally feel that there is nothing wrong with this morally, I do think that you shouldn’t be considered a place of higher learning simply because you are not doing it as well as you could be. If you want to make money focusing on one type of knowledge, you are better of making a specific school on that one type of knowledge rather than creating a whole college set up around your prize bull.

When your motives as a college are primarily to make money, you cannot objectively pursue truth and knowledge because in some circumstances those two philosophies can oppose each other. There is no point half-assing anything as a university. If you are going to claim that I have to pay you $30,000 a year to get a degree in communication for your college, but the college spends the majority of its money on the mathematics department, that means I am not getting what I paid for. I am paying for an education that will make me just as prepared to go into the communication industry as you are preparing future mathematicians.

And so, if a department cannot teach all the content in a way that it is worth the price, then you shouldn’t charge that price. Universities shouldn’t be a tool of capitalism. They work better as institutions of higher learning with the main goal of learning and discovering new truths.