Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Follow us on social
  • They Both Die at the End – General Review
    Summer break is the perfect opportunity to get back into reading. Adam Silvera’s (2017) novel, They Both Die at the End, can serve as a stepping stone into the realm of reading. The pace is fast, action-packed, and develops loveable characters. Also, Silvera switches point of view each chapter where narration mainly focuses on the protagonists, […]
  • My Favorite Book – Freshwater
    If there’s one book that I believe everyone should read once in their life, it’s my favorite book – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. From my course, Queer Literature under Dr. Bill Albertini, I discovered Emezi’s Freshwater (2018). Once more, my course, Creative Writing Thesis Workshop under Professor Amorak Huey, was instructed to present our favorite […]

Perceived worth of a college graduate has changed over time, scholars say

What is the worth of a college graduate to society? According to Boston College vice president of student affairs Patrick Rombalski and other academics, the shifting answer to this question has recently eroded the public’s faith in the nation’s system of higher education.

The concern is that American higher education has turned into a production company for money-makers in our consumerist culture, not civic minded citizens, Diane Pullin said, who is a professor in BC’s Lynch School of Education.

Patrick Altbach, also a professor in the LSOE, said that universities go too far in valuing higher education for its private, monetary benefits in much the same way as Wall Street does to a corporation. The only difference, he said, is that we have not crashed yet.

The public’s concern is supported by the numbers. In a paper he wrote with Harvard economists David Bloom and Henry Rosovsky, University of Pennsylvania professor Matt Hartley said they found two significant sources of evidence to support the idea that the purpose of higher education has shifted over the decades.

He said that UCLA’s survey of thousands of college freshmen, distributed annually for the past 30 years, shows that in 1969, 80 percent of all incoming freshmen felt that developing a meaningful philosophy of life was an important goal in life. By 1996, that value had dropped to 42 percent.

Between 1971 and 1991, the percentage of students indicating that they were attending college ‘to be able to make more money’ increased from 49.9 percent to 74.7 percent.

The importance of the greater good seems to be slipping out of focus for Americans who pursue higher education based on these statistics, Pullin said. He said that starting at a much earlier age, parents are pushing students to think more about the personal benefits of education and less about working toward the greater good. Altbach said he attributes much of this sentiment to a possibly irreversible conservatism and ‘go-go capitalism’ that has prevailed since the Reagan administration.

Concurrently, public support for higher education is waning.

‘Although spending on higher education has increased over time, the percentage of state budgets allocated to higher education has declined [falling from 40 percent to 32 percent between 1980 and 2003, for example]. Today, many states cover less than one-third of the cost of public higher education,’ Hartley said.

This decreased financial support makes higher education into a product supported by the individual, therefore increasing its perceived value as a private good, he said. More statistics show that there is little public desire to change this.

‘Public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans believe that the cost of higher education ought to be borne by individuals and families, not tax supported,’ he said.

The issue affects all types of colleges public and private, Rombalski said. Buildings, he said, are not built on campus without government money. In addition, Pullin said that private universities benefit from government aid of higher education in the form of student loans, research grants, money to address public goals, work study funding and library aid.

‘The money is all over this campus, it’s just in hidden places,’ Pullin said.

Hartley said that the conservative culture that despised government spending has had a real effect on society in the form of limiting access to higher education. As the price of education continues to surge upward, the importance of governmental support of higher education remains critical, Ana Martinez-Aleman, an LSOE professor, said. The gap between those who can attend college and those who cannot is widening because families are unable to get aid, she said.

Historically, a university education has been of utmost importance to a democratic society, Hartley said. He said that this is clear in the missions of most universities, which typically emphasize the role the institution plays in advancing the public good by serving society and preparing civic leaders.

Martinez-Aleman said that statistics show that college graduates contribute much to the public good. College graduates’ engagement in socially valuable behaviors include higher rates of volunteering, higher rates of voting, living more healthy lives, and contributing more to the tax pool, she said.

But there are additional benefits that a college graduate offers, Pullin said, that are intangible. ‘A lot of what we do is intangible. It’s not like producing an automobile,’ she said.

‘But those arguments will fall on deaf ears if universities cannot convincingly articulate their public purposes and show that they are interested in more than pursuing prestige,’ Hartley said. Universities are engaged in a ‘nuclear arms race of extravagant facilities,’ Altbach said.

Media perceptions of the university’s mission have also taken their toll. ‘This tidal wave of information [that] doesn’t necessarily get us to see the big picture about what higher education is worth. It’s hard to see the message,’ Pullin said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to BG Falcon Media
$1325
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Bowling Green State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to BG Falcon Media
$1325
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All BG Falcon Media Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *