Few would argue that the current system of rapidly increasing costs and compounding debt is a sustainable long-term plan for higher education. Yet there are even fewer among us who might dare to challenge the accepted standard for the paper chase. Certainly, we lucky ones who have managed to matriculate, secure employment, and then make good use of the opportunities presented are standing specimens of the incontrovertible truth that graduates make more money and encounter superior choices over those, on average, without the sheepskin.
But in a time of burgeoning and suffocating obligations levied upon those who can least afford it, is the higher education system doing all that it can to open a path to admit more of us to the supposed nirvana of degreed status? Many universities have fallen into a feedback loop of rising costs (often exceeding the cost of living by a dozen or more times in the years since we made our way out of the hallowed halls) and ever increasing amenities (always claiming that luxe is the key to a qualified and diverse student body).
Are granite counter tops and city bus passes required to become educated? Would one’s understanding of the basic principles of accounting be adversely affected if they had to share a bathroom in the dorm? America continues to teeter, even after the explosive financial correction of these past several years, attempting to balance what it can afford with what it wants. Does indulging our desire to swaddle young people in luxury ensure they will live a life enslaved to debt?
Luxury education is not the same as higher education. And when we confuse the two, perhaps we need to go back to school and figure out the distinction. I will take a private room with a view of the rec sports center.