Wednesday, October 6, 2010
In a word, no.
But I have to admire the argument written by Jeremy Merrill CMC '12. He has an interesting, but flawed take on higher education over at USA Today. He writes about how we are having our adolescence prolonged by the rising cost of tuition. He says,
... I’m not alone among my peers attending prestigious academic institutions. Because that $50,000 per year bill is just too steep to earn over the course of the year, we are dependent on our parents to pay for our tuition, room and board. Even with generous financial aid, the $3,000 or so I could earn in a summer of scooping ice cream and the $3,000 I make on-campus would barely make a dent in my total bill. So my peers and I don’t even bother trying – mom and dad pay the whole bill.He's right, in a word, but that doesn't mean that it is preferable. Nor does he speak for all of us. I work three jobs -- the Claremont Institute, the Salvatori Center, and a freelance writing/researching career, in addition to a lot of odd jobs around town. (One time I pulled a dead cat, bare-handed from under a house. I finally learned the definition of putrid.) I pay my own rent, send whatever money I can home, qualified for an expensive apartment because I made over $20,000 last year (so we didn't have to co-sign), and live a pretty good life. I eat cheaply and live cheaply so that I might be rich in thought. Sure it's tough, but the best things in life often are and that's not to suggest that my parents don't pay a lot of my small bill -- they do -- but I always feel guilty when I ask them for anything.
What this means is that we aren’t supporting ourselves. Past generations – in addition to attending class – worked two jobs, scrimped and saved, and ate canned beans for dinner every night in order to pay the rent.
So for those past generations, when summer or graduation rolled around, it was easy to stick around the college town: same routine as always, except without going to class. Survival without a “career” was never in question, since they could always support a frugal lifestyle busing tables or tutoring kids.
But we don’t have that option, since our summers are spent at internships and our rent is always paid by someone else. We were supposed to be independent at age 18, but when we’re thrown into the deep end at age 22, we still don’t know how to be independent.
Then that's your fault. Maybe there's something to be said of minimum wage jobs/illegal immigrants replacing young people from those busing tables jobs. But there is a more likely explanation: lack of initiative. Many of my friends refuse to work "dead end" jobs, whatever those are. Others don't work hard at getting paid internships. Still others find it totally OK to sponge off Mom and Dad on the unpaid internship, which is, after all, a form of affirmative action for rich kids.
Many of my friends' parents do a lot to aid their children at staying children. They keep their kids' rooms the same, giving their kids the ultimate safety net. But for many of us, failure is not an option. Going home is not an option.
I’m twenty years old, but I’ve never paid my own rent. I’ve never had to support myself from paychecks I’ve earned through my own blood, toil, tears and sweat. So, if I can’t find a job after college, I might have to move back to my parent’s house – another victim of the much-discussed “prolonged adolescence.”I have a solution. Pay your rent. Get a job. Get another job. And recognize that even if you are paying $200,000, we've got low interest rates and presumably you were studying something that'll help you pay back the bill. You'll be stressed and worried, but that's adulthood for you: worrying, working, and wondering what it all means.
Lowering tuition would be great, but expect to hear screaming about cuts. A great example of that, of course, is the UC system which steals money in the form of taxes from people who would dream of their children going to schools. Whenever the UCs reduce spending by even the slightest bit, everyone screams bloody murder and even riots. I digress.