Stay Informed: Why College Tuition Has Increased So Much

Frustrated Student

A topic which has garnered significant attention in recent years – and especially during the presidential campaigns – is the significant increases in college tuition and the consequent backbreaking increases in student debt.

Doug Webber (Temple University) has written an interesting analysis of the cause(s) of this situation for FiveThirtyEight (aka, Nate Silvers & co.).

The overarching message is that there is no single cause of the tuition boom. The reason for rising costs differs based on the type of institution and the state it’s in, and even varies over time. But, at least among public institutions, the dominant factor has been a steady decrease in support for higher education on the part of state legislatures.”

Prior to reading this article my uninformed pseudo-opinion was that the bulk of cost increases came from unnecessary spending. This analysis, however, forces me to rethink that viewpoint.

That said in my (humble? I hope!) opinion, there may still be room for some navel-gazing within higher ed. There are three areas that come to mind:

  1. Reducing expenditures on buildings, especially in instances where existing buildings are sufficient, or where the architecture is unnecessarily elaborate.[1]
  2. Reducing expenditures on unnecessary services, especially in cases where the educational value is questionable and/or the value in recruiting students is minimal.[2]
  3. Utilizing and contributing to open source systems, such as those available from the Kuali Foundation. The prices of higher ed software is often high while the quality of the software is low.

This said, I realize that the potential cost savings I have mentioned above will not make a huge dent in student tuitions…and I would even go so far as to say that I’m not entirely sure the money should go to tuition decreases.

In many cases the faculty and staff of an educational institution are poorly compensated. This can be a social justice issue, which by its very nature should be corrected. It also has indirect negative effects on both the institution and the students. If faculty/staff need to work second jobs to survive, this reduces their availability to the institution and to the students. Tired faculty/staff result in decreased classroom lecture quality, decreased opportunities for personal interactions with students, and increase the more base aspects of our natures (e.g., temper, apathy, etc.).

I’d love to know what you think!

  1. [1]I tend toward pragmatism, as opposed to the aesthetic – so judge the validity of this comment as you may. I’m simply saying that I think most students would prefer lower tuition over highly vaulted ceilings (which result in a significant uptick in heating/cooling costs on an indefinite basis; in addition to the extra cost in construction).
  2. [2]e.g., While I consider it important to maintain functional, clean, and quality gym equipment – the latest and greatest gadgets may not be necessary. Another example might be televisions. I’m not saying not to have them in the residence halls or in the gyms, but I do think that generally they are an unnecessary expense that causes detriment to students. e.g., Many guys I know (including myself) will be drawn to focus on a TV no matter what is on (even if it is extremely uninteresting) and this causes a deterioration in the quality of conversation that can occur and the ability to study/think. As such, I’d suggest they be in recreational areas but avoided in most other areas.

StudyDroid Flashcards – Eliminate Outdated Paper Flashcards.

For those students who are fond of flash cards, and have an android phone. Check out the app StudyDroid. I downloaded it the other day, and have been very pleased with it. It eliminates the need for carrying around the paper version of flash cards, and you will have it at your finger tips online or on your phone.

Thanks to OpenClipart.org and johnny_automatic for the image.
Thanks to OpenClipart.org and johnny_automatic for the image.

You can create the flash cards either on your computer or straight on your phone. By syncing it to an account on studydroid.com you can make the cards right on the computer, including adding pictures to the cards, and it will sync to your phone.

Once the cards are on your phone, simply click on that pack in the main menu and begin going through, the navigation is simple. Tap the card in order to flip it over, swipe left or right to move through the cards. Once you learn a card, place it at the back of the pile permanently. The main menu displays the % of the cards that you have marked as “learned” so that you know how close you are to mastering that deck of cards.

Positives: Simple easy to use format, ability to use pictures, syncing capabilities with your phone, ability to share your flash cards with friends via facebook. Function to mark cards as “learned” so they are put to the end of the deck.

Cons: The online entry form can sometimes be a little finicky, no fancy animations (which doesn’t bother me, but might bother others), occasionally the swiping motion is not registered and you must swipe a few times.

MyEdu: Relieving the Stresses as Class Selection & Registration.

College Students, next time you are registering for classes check out www.myedu.com This is an absolutely amazing site,

MyEdu
MyEdu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

especially if you are a SUNY Cobleskill student who finds the course registration process a pain in the butt.

The first step is to build your profile with you major, how much you have completed, and what courses you are already completed. Then click on the start building your schedule button to start browsing for classes. It allows you to add to your worksheet all the classes you are interested in and then you can start more officially adding them to a schedule. If classes overlap, it shows you that on your color coded schedule.

Thanks to OpenClipart.org and mazeo for the image.
Thanks to OpenClipart.org and mazeo for the image.

It also shows you the average GPA as well as Grade distribution of the teachers teaching each class, so you can choose which professor best suits you. When you are done, just write down the CRN numbers which it provides and take those over to either the registrar, or to your schools registration website.

Other features on the site, include resources for finding jobs and internships, as well as the option to share your schedule on facebook with your other college friends, to ask questions about the college you are attending, or other colleges you are interested in.

Overall, I would say this program saved me at least an hour in the class hunting process for my major, which with the SUNY Cobleskill site is a pain in the butt.