Why It Is Getting Harder to Get an Education?
In the times we live in, it is getting harder and harder to get an education, and more difficult yet to get by without one. People can´t get stable jobs without a degree, and be completely sure they will live a comfortable life. Competition has turned education into a need in order to survive modern times, but still, tuition prices are being raised making education more challenging than it already is. Students nowadays have to fight competition while working, they have to search and find a way into enrolling in their needed classes while hoping that they fit into their working schedules, all with the pressure of getting the best grades in the shortest amount of time in order to be accepted by a four year university.
It is not a secret, education prices are rising, as a student in San Diego Mesa College for the last year 2011-2012, I have seen how the enrollment fee of one unit has been raised from 24 dollars to 36 dollars, and how these 36 dollars will go up to 46 dollars per unit for the incoming semester. According to a book by Ronald Ehrenberg “For at least a century, tuition at selective private colleges and universities has risen annually by two to three percent more than the rate of inflation.”
The question is why? If education is needed for progress, if it improves an individual´s quality of life, if it enhances his or her social status, mental status, knowledge and most importantly if education develops an individual´s potential to the fullest. Then why is it becoming more and more difficult to become educated?
There are different factors or also called “cost pressures” that make education more difficult to obtain now than before. Here are some that I have encountered for this research. The first one stated by William Bowen acknowledged the rising of prices to “the nature of the educational process, which did not permit academia to share in the productivity gains that caused earnings growth to the rest of society.” In other words knowledge is power, and power can be translated into money, people at the top of the chain wanted to control who got educated and who didn’t with prices. A second reason for the continuous raising of college prices, is that we are living in a “Winner-Take-All” society as stated in this same book “Tuition Rising: Why College costs so much”
The objective of selective academic institutions is to be the best they can in every aspect of their activities. They aggressively seek out all possible resources and put them to use funding things they think will make them better. To look better than their competitors, the institutions wind up in an arms race of spending to improve facilities, faculty, students, research, and instructional technology.
The effect this has on students is making them and their families want to be in the “very best”. With long lines of high quality students submitting applications, and wanting to study in these selective academic institutions, top schools according to Ehrenberg have chosen to increase quality by “spending more, not by not by increasing efficiency, reducing costs, or reallocating funds.”
The third reason for the increasing of tuition is the shared system of governance between trustees, administrators, and faculty. At public institutions, trustees don’t have much control over tuition levels and state appropriations, so administrators at the public institutions often can make hard decisions to balance budgets because they can always blame the cuts on state government (Ehrenberg, 2002).
Many may ask where does the government help come in? Federal programs intended to assist students facing sharp college costs have indirectly contributed to the rise in tuition. The Federal government guaranteed student loans extended by private banks in the Higher Education Act of 1965 (Woodhall, 2007). According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury “the Student Loan Marketing Association also known as (Sallie Mae) was established in 1972 as a government-sponsored initiative to establish a secondary market in student loans. In addition, a limited direct government loan program was established in 1993.” The problem is that these loan programs not only facilitate indebtedness, but also increase the scale of the debt by increasing tuition. As Stuart M. Butler wrote in a USA today article “The faculty and staff can vote themselves higher salaries and more resources if the only consequence is that students and parents just have to sign on the dotted line to borrow some more money.” With federal debt assistance so readily available, schools don’t feel the need to control the costs of education. The wisest approach would be to promote saving for college, rather than to make it even easier for families and students to go deeply into debt.
Other very persuasive reasons for the increasing cost and consequently difficulty for higher education as said by John S. Barry is “the increased demand for college degrees, higher overhead costs associated with increased faculty research, and federal student aid programs that indirectly fund schools.” According to the General Accounting Office the average college graduate earned about 43 percent more than the average high school graduate did in 1980. Today in the year 2012, the difference in earnings between these same two groups, a high school graduate and college graduate is more than 70 percent. Therefore, more and more families are finding it necessary to send their children to college so they will have a better opportunity to succeed, and have a well-paid job. This increased demand for higher education has driven up the price of college, like any product’s price is increased when there is more demand and their isn’t sufficient supply.
It is clearly no surprise that gaining entrance to a four-year college or university, particularly a selective institution, has become more and more competitive over the last several decades. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research “the number of applicants has doubled since the early 1970s while school sizes have changed little.” A main factor that has lifted the number of applications is the increasing number of female students, women are gaining equality, and this is being reflected on the number of applicants to universities. According to the data provided from the Digest of Education Statistics, the number of women applying to four-year colleges doubled between 1972 and 2004 while it increased by only 50 percent for men.
With all this demand for education in a four-year college, these institutions have increased their selectivity. High schools students and transfer students today are subject to more competition that any time in the past.
A factor that boosts tuition in selective institutions is when they are published in rankings for the public to see. When universities are mentioned or somehow improve their position in rankings like the U.S News & World Report. Students see these rankings and the number of the school’s applicant’s increases while the percentage of applicants’ decreases. At the same time freshmen test scores increase, and the amount of financial aid that is offered to enroll in the class decreases. As a result, institutions have every incentive to improve their ranking. According to “Financial Aid in Theory and Practice” institutions are motivated to the extent that the “rankings are partially based on how much an institution spends educating each student, pressure to increase such spending mounts, and unilateral reduction of costs in a number of areas is untenable” (Gillen, 2009).
Due to the increasing difficulty by factor mentioned above of students getting into a selective institution, applicants face the pressure of their lives taking on activities that will impress university and college admission officers. For example:
Williams reported in the New York Times: “Once, summer for teenagers meant a season of menial jobs and lazy days at the local pool. But for a small but growing number of college-bound students summer has become a time of résumé-building academic work and all consuming, often exotic projects to change the world (Williams, 2006).
In comparison to the past, students nowadays have to invest more time and effort in behaviors and activities that will increase their chances of acceptance. These investments could include better academic preparation, such as taking more challenging courses offered in high school or honors courses offered by the Community College that they are attending. An example of this is Mesa College’s Honors program, made for students who are willing to “work more” in order to have a more eye-catching resume, that still does not guarantee in any way a spot in a top institution. Another investment students make is getting involved in activities that are looked upon fondly by admissions committees. “It could also include investing in signals of ability, such as focusing on improving college examination test scores. Changes in application behavior, such as the number of applications submitted or where test scores are sent, might also increase the likelihood of being accepted into a top school” ( Bound et al.45).
A factor that inevitably has made education a longer and more challenging process is the need students have to work and at the same time focus on their studies. The fall of 2003 a survey was conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. In this study it was found that only 34% of that year’s entering freshmen had spent six or more hours per week outside of class on academic-related work like doing homework and studying, during their senior year in high school. The survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute also found that “65.3% of entering freshmen have either ‘some concern’ or ‘major concerns’ about not having enough money to complete their college degrees.” This is likely to increase in the years ahead because of reduced funding for higher education by state legislatures and the factors mentioned above that contribute to the raising of tuition.
Although more women (70.9%) were concerned about whether they would have enough funds to complete college than were men (58.3%), all students seemed to be working out of the need to make up for rising tuition and fewer available grants. In summary, the proportion of college students who are employed either part or full time is likely to increase in the years to come, leaving greater numbers of students with less time for academic work (Higher Education Research Institute, 2003).
Students that are spending less time studying and more time working are two problems that all colleges and universities will have to confront. Schools can’t just lower their academic standards by rewarding minimum effort and
achievement or expecting less.
In conclusion there are several actions that selective private colleges and universities can take to help students alleviate their road in education. This is mainly done by moderating their tuition increases. This increased value of a college degree that has led to increased demand for higher education eventually will be met when supply is greater than before. When that happens we can expect to see tuition prices fall naturally (Barry, 2007).
Those universities that have abandoned students through increased class size, increased tuition, or reduced professorial teaching will see their enrollment fall off and shift to schools that focus on the students. As this happens, research universities as stated by the Heritage Foundation will either have to return to teaching (which would reduce costs) or lower their tuition to attract more students.
In the same manner, deans should be held responsible for the well being of the institution as a whole, not just for their individual college. Trustees, directors and alumni, too, need to be educated to look beyond their special interests; this may be the most difficult aspect of the solution. As stated by Ronald Ehrenberg “in private institutions, trustees can play a crucial role in backing efforts on the part of presidents and provosts to control costs.”
Further, colleges and universities must assume the mindset of growing by substitution, not by expansion, all this money devoted to making infrastructure, specially eye-catching libraries, should be used to admit and have more students learning in their facilities. And finally institutions must increase cooperation with their competitors (“Educause”). Associations or groupings within institutions that share academic and administrative resources both within campus and across institutions could promise significant savings in a n In modern times knowledge is the most valuable product or service a person and a country can offer. As Barack Obama stated “The best jobs will go to the best educated.” Education is not
only important to have a good job but it empowers us as students to think and see beyond the obvious by questioning.umber of areas if they communicate with each other.
In modern times knowledge is the most valuable product or service a person and a country can offer. As Barack Obama stated “The best jobs will go to the best educated.” Education is not only important to have a good job but it empowers us as students to think and see beyond the obvious by questioning, this process should be made easy and benefit all, rather than complicated and beneficial to a small portion of the population.
Archibald, Robert, and David H. Feldman “Why Do Higher-Education Costs Rise More Rapidly Than Prices in General?” Change, 40.3(2008):25-.31 Academic Search Premier, Web. 1 May 2012. Barry, John S. “Rigging the Price for Higher Education” Academic Questions, 11.1(2012):84-90 Academic Search Premier, Web. 1 May 2012. Butler, Stuart. ” Taking the Anxiety Out of Paying for College” July, 1997. Print. Carmona, Chelsea. “Making Educational Opportunities Harder to Reach” San Francisco Chronicle, 2012, A-10. Web. 12 May.2012. Ehrenberg, Ronal. Tuition Rising: Why College Costs So Much. New York: Harvard University Press, 2002. Print. Gillen, Andrew. Financial Aid in Theory and Practice Washington, D.C: The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, 2009. Print. Quinn, Stauffer, et al. The Privatization of Sallie Mae. U.S. Department of the Treasury: Office of Sallie Mae Oversight, 2006. Print. Sandy Baum and Jennifer Ma. “Education Pays”, Trends in Education Series, College Board Press, 2007. Print. Sarah Nonis and Gail Hudson “Academic Performance of College Students: Influence of Time Spent Studying and Working” Journal of Education for Business 83.3(2006). :151-159.Print. Williams, Alex “The Lost Summer” The New York Times-June 4, 2006, Page 3. Print. Woodhall, Maureen. Funding Higher Education: The Contribution of Economic Thinking to Debate and Policy Development. Washington D.C: The World Bank, 2007.Print. Outline
Why is it Getting Harder to Get an Education?
Thesis Statement: In the times we live in, it is getting harder and harder to get an education, and more difficult yet to get by without one I. Introduction
A. Tuition Prices are rising
B. Cost Pressures
a. Control of Education
b. “Winner-Take-All Society”
c. Shared System of Governance
II. Federal Programs
III. Increased Demand of Higher Education
A. Demand and Supply
1) Women’s influence
B. Published Ranking
C. Effect of Working and Studying
IV. Possible Solutions