Wednesday, September 15, 2004

You Get What You Pay For

Big news story this morning about the high drop-out rate among college students in the US; more than 35% of the people who start college will drop-out before graduation. The news folks seem to attribute this mostly to the high cost of tuition and poor preparation in high school.

Yes, college is expensive. Why? Because students expect (and deserve) access to the latest technology. Having power-point set-ups in each classroom is educationally useful in some cases, but expensive. Putting in 24 hour computer labs with top of the line equipment and training people to staff the help-desk is expensive. Students who spend hours of their time downloading movies and music off the Internet mean that more connections and bandwidth must be purchased for the students who are e-mailing their professors. Students who print out five copies of the complete script to Monty Python and the Holy Grail drive up what the institution must spend on paper and toner cartridges.

Today's college faculty are generally more qualified and better trained (though I'll save my thoughts on adjuncts for another blog rant.) The additional training and experience cost money, so we need larger paychecks go cover the cost of our student loans. The litter in large lecture halls continues to stun me; if students AND faculty picked up after themselves, probably quite a bit of money could be saved there as well.

Library books are expensive. Visit Amazon and take a look at what books from the university presses cost. I have my eye on an exciting new title, but it is $55. I'm counting on my university's library to purchase it. Add to this (no pun intended) that Americans are saving less and spending more, and larger student loan debt and part-time jobs become a necessary, though painful, element of college.

Are there some lousy teachers out there, apathetic to whether or not their students learn how to use the apostrophe, the construction of a thesis statement, and the difference between it's and its? Of course there are: I've taught quite a few of them, and I studied under a few more. As an explanation for the present situation, however, this is a poor one. Even the best teacher cannot teach pupils who do not want to learn; it's much easier to blame the teachers than to accept the possibility that our students simply do not work hard enough.

Then again, as Greg at I-465 notes, the football stadium is more important than installing air-conditioning in our schools.

Enough with my ranting; I'd like to get another thousand words done today.

Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: twenty-nine


Joe said...

Just a point... people forget about the immense personnel costs of a service industry. Books and tech and bandwith and buildings are expensive, but people who keep these things working and clean are even more expensive.

Except compared to the cost of not having them around to fix things...

OK, dang it, now you've got me started on a post for my blog...

lemming said...

Hey! I did include support staff - er, well, I just mentioned help-desk people. Ref libs are the salt of the earth; love you more than Ben & Jerry's coffee ice cream.