College And The American Dream
Slowly over time, it became common knowledge to both Canadians and Americans that going to college was a necessity to move up in the ranks of life. Go to college, get a good job, buy a house, and settle into a life of prosperity and comfort.
However, in the last ten to fifteen years, it’s become a talking point that pursuing a post-secondary education is not what it used to be, in light of the mounting student debt, as well as the fact that a degree might not even help you get a job.
North Americans began looking at people with a degree, those who had just graduated from college and noticed they weren’t even getting the good jobs they wanted.
The exceedingly high costs of going to college surpassed the benefits of attending university by a significant margin. And it appears many young people are coming to this conclusion. According to the National Review, since 2011, college enrollment has declined by 9% (1).
Colleges And Universities Around The Country Are Shutting Down
If we continue down this path, colleges and universities all over the country are going to start closing down, in fact, some of them have already started.
In Jane Shaw’s article for the Martin Center, she wrote about a series of college closures, including institutions in Vermont, Indiana, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Massachusetts (1).
Moreover, financial analysts have noticed the increase in expenses while the revenues have gone down. Education revenues went up by approximately 3.5% while there was a 4% increase in expenses (1).
The collective societal hyping of the college education has officially ended, as schools close around the country, and the idea of going into debt for a bachelor’s degree seems like an exceedingly terrible idea.
According to Shaw, as per the National Review, Americans are looking at blue-collar lifestyles differently than in the past (1). Formerly, Americans thought working class jobs were for people who didn’t know any better.
The idea that Americans should have to work as a tradesman, a plumber, an electrician, or a brick-layer, was looked at with a bourgeois sentimentality as if having to do a job with your hands is for the “poor and uneducated (1).”
However, lately, we’ve shifted back to more “conservative” attitudes toward the idea of work.
Furthermore, international students aren’t coming to the United States as much as they used to (1). If this continues to go on, which it likely will, the college admissions officers and the presidents of the institutions should be scared.
This may be one of the reasons that higher education associations are trying to fight against the suggestion of the reformation of the Higher Education Act (1).
The National Review states that this new bill is trying to put some limits on student loans. It makes sense for higher education to oppose this sort of bill because it gives students a reason to refuse to go to college and to take out loans (1).
Increasing College Tuition Fees Is Not The Result Of Decreased Public Funding
Simply put, the cost-benefit analysis of a college education shows that it just might not be worth going to school. In the past, the baby boomer generation was able to pay for their education with summer jobs.
However, the narrative perpetuated in the mainstream media is that funds for higher education dropped and the universities had to raise tuition year after year.
But this might not be the actual cause for the rising cost of education.
Instead, it could have something to do with the expansion of the administration in college and universities, who are earning significant money, and also paying college presidents and college sports team coaches millions of dollars a year (2).
In the last thirty-five years, college intuitions have quadrupled. Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute, said to NPR that colleges, due to the slashing of public funding, have to raise tuition fees (2).
However, the truth is that public investment in higher education in America has significantly increased since the 1960s, the era that is supposedly the “golden age” of public funding (2).
The spending on college administrations has increased far higher than any other public sectors. For instance, the military budget is around 1.8 times higher than it was in the 1960’s, while the budgets for higher education have grown by ten times (2).
The Times reports that the costs of college tuition are closely related to the increase in public subsidies for higher education (2). If the average Honda Civic had gone up in price as much as college education, a Civic would cost around $80,000.
Some of the increased spendings on education is a result of the increase of students in the last twenty years. Since 1995, enrollment in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs has grown by 50%.
As a consequence of this, states increased their funding to colleges and universities. From 1960 to 1975, the amount of money toward college education jumped from $11.1 billion to $48.2 billion.
And by 1980, state funding for higher education increased to around 390%.
The influx of taxpayer money did the exact opposite of what Sandy said on National Public Radio. It raised the cost, rather than diminished it.
By 2009, the amount of money given to colleges hit $86.6 billion. It fell after the Great Recession but rose to $81 billion again in 2015 (2).
What’s interesting, however, is that college professor salaries haven’t increased that much. They’re barely higher than what they were in 1970 (2).
Additionally, forty-five years ago, 78% of college and university professors were full-time, while today, half of the post-secondary faculty members are part-time employees, who aren’t paid a lot (2).
The Expansion Of The College Administrations And University Bureaucrats
The truth is that the major driving costs of the universities are the constant expansion of university bureaucrats and university administrators. The universities and colleges are not controlled by the faculty, they are controlled by the administration.
Between 1993 and 2009, according to the Department of Education, the administrative positions at the universities and colleges grew by around 60% (2).
This number was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured university professors and other faculty member positions (2).
According to a university professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, full-time faculty members in the CSU grew from around 11,000 to 12,000 from 1975 to 2008 (2). But administrators grew from, 3,800 until 12,183 (2).
High-ranking university administrators are earning, in many cases, 7-figure salaries (2). Rising tuition is not a result of the lack of public spending. It has more to do with the expansion of the administration.