WHY HIGH-COST TUITION CAN BE AN INCENTIVE

July 21, 2015
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The leitmotiv of the twenty first (and before it, the twentieth) century is that a top-notch college education has become totally unaffordable except for the top 1% of our (let’s call a spade a spade) plutocracy.

What happened to the notion of effort? To that of working and saving toward a college education? To that of working full time while in college: with the average college student taking no more than 15 credits per semester, there is plenty of time left to work, practice sports, even socialize aplenty. In fact, that can be achieved with 18+ credits per semester for the motivated student.

The issue may be the following: if a would-be student is not passionate about a given field of study, he/she is likely to minimize the effort they put in it. How many late teenagers or young adults are quick at throwing at you: “Bill Gates never finished college.”

Scholarships have become so widely available in the right colleges, often without takers, simply because a would-be recipient is too lazy or disorganized to go after it. A friend who is also an astute businessman has been doling out $14,000 annual scholarships to the Cornell School of Hotel Administration: no strings attached. The student has to be admitted to the school and agree to keep a reasonable grade point average throughout the year. By the way, we are not talking about $14,000 once and for all, but $14,000 a year for four years. Granted that will not pay for the student’s full tuition and expenses, but is it an old-fashioned notion to work on or off campus during the school year? What happened to summer jobs? And what about those student loans? As long as you do not overburden yourself, they are manageable and can help in a pinch. Parents? They can help too.

And you ought to choose your college like an automobile: a used Yugo will take you nowhere fast if you are going to compete on the job market with the Rolls Royce and Bentleys of them all, including Cornell and Lausanne.

But the issue appears to be a Baudelairian (don’t ask–or go to Wikipedia) “spleen” worthy of “The Graduate”.  Gap years have become three-year nightmares for parents and relatives. Better yet, college graduates, unable to find the “ideal” gig, come home to Mom and Dad, for free room and board. Well, kids, if you want to use the old homestead as your very own AirB&B, be prepared to pay your share. Or get a move on.

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