By Margaret Klein –
What does the future hold? It’s human nature to wonder, dream, and, possibly, dread the future. Children daydream often about being astronauts, ballerinas, firefighters, and princesses. For adults however, the future isn’t always seen through such rose colored glasses. The main crack in said glasses is money. “Another day another dollar” as the saying goes. A lot has changed in the academic world and arguably the two largest shifts have been tuition and the purpose of education. What does the future of college hold? Will tuition keep climbing? Does finance affect students’ views of college? And will the financial burden accumulated during college affect the rest of these students’ lives?
In 1967, Ronald Reagan is reported to have said, “Why should we [the state] subsidize intellectual curiosity?” This is said to have marked the shift in perception of college from education to job preparation. In the past, first year students would list studying something they were passionate about as their main reason for attending college. Now, according to a survey administered by the Higher Education Research Institute, “The portion of incoming freshman that cited ‘to be able to get a better job’ as a very important reason for attending college reached an all-time high of 87.9 percent in 2012”. Will this trend continue over the next fifteen years? Lisa Wallace, Director of Career Services, says frequently how much she cares that students do what they love, even if it means leaving Rocky. On going to college just to get a good job, she remarked, “You can’t do it for the money, otherwise we’d all be doctors.” She also said, “They [students] can’t choose it [a job] just because of the money, they’ll never enjoy it.” In a day and age where culture indoctrinates us with “Go to school, get into a good college, get good grades, get a good job, retire in 40 years,” doing something we enjoy or are passionate about usually comes second. Should it come first though? Perhaps in the year 2030 students will be pursuing their dreams free of dread, pursuing their passions not just as hobbies but as careers.
With America currently listed as one of the most expensive countries in which to attend college, tuition is a subject never far from a student’s mind. The average U.S. student graduates from college with at least $28,400 in debt. International student Hope Bradley, from Northern Ireland, said, “I don’t know how you’re supposed to come up with it, even when you come out and you graduate, how you’re ever supposed to pay that back.” According to Hope, in Northern Ireland they pay about £3,000-4,0000 per year for college, which translates to about U.S. $5,392.51. Rates have been growing at a steady rate for quite a while now, and they climbed much faster than the rate of inflation. According to Thomas Frey, senior Futurist at The Davinci Institute, if rates continue to climb, in eighteen years, private college is estimated to cost $130,428 per year and public college will cost $41,228 per year. Hopefully, this never happens, and most people believe it will not get that far. Andrew Farkas, Assistant Professor in English, when asked about the projection said, “I’m not an economics major by any means……at a certain point, if it continues to go up, people start to eliminate certain people just because they could not afford it.” Roman Jones, a first year Biology student, agreed saying, “The goal of the private college is to get students. So they would know that they wouldn’t have many students with that high of a tuition cost. So it would be in their best interests to lower costs.” Will college rates go down in the next fifteen years? Most people interviewed believed that college couldn’t possibly end up that expensive because no one would be able to attend. Let’s hope the colleges follow that line of thinking.
College is an expensive investment and there is a lot of pressure to go into a “worthwhile” career. Consequently, many people shy away from pursuing their dreams and instead pursue an impressive job because of cultural pressure and financial difficulties. Wouldn’t it be a better investment for students to get closer to their purpose in life? Students should have the opportunity to pursue their purpose and not fear the cost. People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten. We have fifteen, let’s get to work. Let’s make college affordable and let’s help more college students pursue their passion instead of paycheck.