A lot of respect directed to Prof Jacqueline D. Spears of Kansas State University for politely, but firmly refuting the weak position of student Ryan Villwock who likened the University experience to a constant struggle against corporate greed. Ryan, citing a Los Angeles Times article, stated most of student tuition is being disbursed to tenured professors(probably raised the hair on Doctor Spears neck), athletics, and fat cat administrators. Even if this were true, there is a surfeit of need-based scholarships to defray the cost of Ryan’s passage through the hallowed halls.
Villwock also laments the fact that kiddos from wealthier families are eight times more likely to get that piece of paper that will more than double their income for the remainder of their life. I don’t think Ryan would broach this topic if he was the progeny of an affluent family.
Ryan appeared to be unaware that a good portion of the K-State infrastructure is improved and maintained by revenue from private donations. As Spears mentioned, he is laboring under a multitude of erroneous assumptions regarding his alma mater and the government’s role in educational assistance. He is not entitled to a low cost education and if he does not have the gumption and wherewithal to dig in and do the requisite due diligence and research, then he is not college material. Perhaps a vocational path would better suit him.
Mr. Villwock’s editorial on Friday, Nov. 6, displayed a frightening lack of knowledge(a very common characteristic of many incoming freshmen these days) about K-State, let alone higher education finances as a whole. There isn’t space enough to correct all his false assumptions. As the tuition at K-State increased, efforts to secure student scholarships as well as return some of the tuition increases to need-based student financial support also increased.
Institutionally supported need-based scholarships now exceed those available from the federal government and are nearly ten times that available from state-supported scholarships. Private donations cover the costs of nearly every building project undertaken in the last decade or more. Nearly every college dean spends an inordinate amount of time raising private funds to provide student scholarships and provide the competitive faculty salaries needed to ensure students a high quality education. If Mr. Villwock had taken the time to examine the publicly available statistics about K-State, his opinions would have at least been grounded in evidence.(He seemed to dig up misinformation that supported his fixed idea that major universities are profit centers rather than institutions of higher learning)
If students want to advocate a return to greater state investment in higher education, they need to demonstrate that they are prepared to make a far more serious investment in themselves.
The average debt for a college education currently being reported is roughly the cost of a new car.(this substantially less than what is widely promulgated) The U.S. Census Bureau reports that a college degree nearly doubles an individual’s annual earnings. Doubling your annual earnings over a lifetime seems a better investment in yourself than a car. Coming to class prepared, taking responsibility for strengthening skills you let slide in high school, seeking challenges, acknowledging your own responsibilities in preparing yourself to be productive – these would all go a long way toward convincing others that an investment in you would be worthwhile.
Doing the research needed to write an informed editorial, checking the credibility and relevance of your sources, being your own best critic (local governments do not pay “the majority of public college expenses!”) – these are the investments you need to make in yourself before you ask others to invest in you. As it is, many tax-payers see students borrowing money to support a lifestyle for which they have not yet earned the necessary credentials.(emphatically agree with this assertion…..kids come out of high schools these days with weak foundations in basic arithmetic, no understanding of grammar, effectively illiterate unable to write a single cohesive sentence, unaware of the world around them…Read the work of Emory University’s Mark Bauerlein if you want to flesh this out some!) They see students treating a college degree as a consumable, not an investment. It seems appropriate that the individual consumer should bear those costs.
Jacqueline D. Spears
College of Education