Monday, July 03, 2006

Some Thoughts on the Cost of College

From someone who stands on the edge of the old regime, but not close enough to the future to make the jump.

Here we have the university presidents whining about the lack of state money (that is, your money if you live in Ohio) to maintain their ever expanding facilities.

I suspect that for the vast majority of college students, the college experience is about a) social party time and b) trade education. The combined totals of a) and b), regardless of order, are probably well to the north of 85% of the students.

The Universities, on the other hand, insist on the “liberal arts” approach. Two simple reasons for this: one, it fits in with the hubristic vision of transforming ignorant yahoos into civilized members of society (short version: leftists), and two, without it, you could not justify entire departments devoted to the fad of the day. One can only imagine how much fat could be cut from the university budget by slicing the fad o the day departments loose, and eliminating student activity fees. After all, if the clubs are valuable, the students would gladly pay for the ones they want to participate in, yes?

So, at the end of the day, we have increasing costs of college – largely driven by government subsidy and lack of oversight. University administrations may be foolish, but they’re not stupid. They realize that practically every scheme for increasing the funding for the number one middle class welfare program means more dollars in their pocket.

The faint tread of the footsteps of doom are beginning to be heard. Between the University of Phoenix & mutants for trade education, and The Teaching Company & mutants hitting up those interested in a more liberal arts perspective, soon the traditional state university may only be able to offer frat parties and football games.

That’s still a significant advantage, but cost competition for a commodity degree is coming to a theatre near you. And soon.

But not soon enough.