A college education in 2014 can be summed up in four simple words, “You Pay To Play.” And with that being said we must ask: How big-business is your college?
Thousands of colleges have to compete every year for students’ loan money, which means that they need to stand out. Every successful business knows they need to market themselves in a memorable way, in order to convince their would be customers to use their services.
So how are universities branding themselves?
In every way possible. From luxury living, to gadgets, to gourmet dining plans.
USNews recently reported that school officials are using “awe-inspiring amenities that help attract international students, who typically do pay the full posted price for their education”, because it’s effective, and it’s working.
School officials also seem to be monitoring their year to year funding closer than year to year student academic progress.
The forced resignation in 2012 of University of Virginia’s President, Teresa Sullivan, shined a bright light on just this issue. The Huffington Post went into great depth over the school board’s decision to vote Sullivan out, and then later reinstate her due to unforeseen media coverage and protests. To sum it up, the board wasn’t pleased in how Sullivan was addressing diminishing funding and her inability to position U.Va’s hospital to better compete with private health care providers.
How else are universities, for better or worse, adopting a corporate culture?
Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was named the new President of Purdue University, despite a Change.org petition to withdraw his bid for President. The trustees over at Purdue felt he was qualified for the position because despite lack of academic experience, Daniel’s is “adept at raising money and cutting education spending.” Both are necessary, and we at SoCawlege feel Mitch Daniels will make a great President for Perdue, but the trustees should care more about academic progress, and how much success their graduates have at getting jobs.
Reports also claim that the University of Texas enlisted a committee of high-profile corporate executives to steer the school’s budget and operations. This can be useful for making sure funds are spent correctly, but again, too many kids don’t graduate on time, and too many of them don’t get jobs after graduation, so shouldn’t colleges worry about that first?
Drexel University plans on tearing down their James E. Marks Intercultural Center to make way for an on-campus hotel, despite there being a Sheraton hotel a few blocks up on the street. Both students and Professors are outraged enough to make a petition pleading for ‘help and greater transparency’ from the President.
With higher education costs on the rise, and an observable change in the way colleges are doing business, I leave you with a couple questions to ponder
Why are colleges doing this?
A: Because with the government and other sources endlessly pumping money into higher education, both directly and through student grants/loans, colleges don’t have to worry about students not being able to afford their high prices. Therefore, they can keep charging them, and make their top priority how to spend their large sums of cash, instead of educational quality. If kids didn’t have as much of an ability to pay for college, there would be more competition on a quality level of education, as well as price of that education, since college would be considered more valuable to cash strapped students and parents. What would the price of oranges look like if the government passed out free grant money to people who wanted to buy them at the store?
Are colleges for the ‘common good’?
A: Presidents, professors, and others at colleges and universities are human beings too. They want what is best for them, so the next time you are getting your two hours of lecture a week from a guy earning over $200,000 a year, in a building that cost more than your home’s town hall, remember that most people’s top priority is themselves. That isn’t necessarily bad, it is just a reality.