31 July 2011

Reader Mail on In-State Tuition Reform

My column in-state tuition reform was reprinted today in the Dallas Morning News and prompted this response from a former CU parent which came in by email:
I was fortunate to see your article about in-state tuitions in my Sunday Dallas Morning News and wanted to tell you how pleased I was to see a professor actually trying to do something about the college costing paradigm. My daughter was graduated from your Journalism school in December of this past year and while we paid out of state rates--I feel that she/we received a reasonable value for our money; increased academic rigor, and more discussions of economic realities would have probably made her current job search slightly more palatable and productive. Your underlying assertions about needing to drive the University toward greater greatness for the good of all truly resonate, because at some level a rational parent looks at their child and says, "okay, now over the next 4 years I am going to plunk down $160k to get a diploma," is that worth as much as potentially staking the child to ownership of a small business? The answer really is: largely only if the diploma has some resultant training of the mind, some affiliation benefit, and some reputational worth. The balance can be found on the internet or for less cost elsewhere.

Too many college administrators appear to believe that the "wisdom" the professors bring to the classroom by their presence is either of such inestimable value or uniqueness that we should be honored to shower them with money. That isn't to say I begrudge any University what they charge, because for many students especially in the college age range, it is only by bringing the subjects to life that learning and inspiration occur and when they drive and inspire ground-breaking research, lifelong careers, and changed behaviour patterns the educators have effectively altered the course of history. Still the reality remains that students are going to be motivated by something, and 99% of what is taught is readily available through books and the internet so the schools really need to understand and focus on those aspects of the college investment that make one school more valuable than the next--and unless you want to compete on price, I would suggest that your essay is a good start for looking at what continues to make being a "Buff" worth the dollars people are now paying. And pushing this value equation could be the right catalyst for propelling your school to next level.


Dave Lapka