According to the Washington Post, total outstanding student debt has passed $1 trillion, more than the nation’s credit card debt, and average indebtedness for students is rising. While I’ve often written about whether college is beneficial in modern society (where some of the most successful and wealthiest entrepreneurs are college drop outs), for many there is proven long-term fiscal value of a degree. But not everyone can afford to pay outright for skyrocketing tuition costs.
- Public four-year colleges charge, on average, $7,605 per year in tuition and fees for in-state students. The average surcharge for full-time out-of-state students at these institutions is $11,990.
- Private nonprofit four-year colleges charge, on average, $27,293 per year in tuition and fees.
- Public two-year colleges charge, on average, $2,713 per year in tuition and fees.
My alma mater, a private midwest college with a strong arts program, recently announced that it is raising tuition to $30k a year. While this is quite high, other private schools in the area also announced tuition hikes… The University of Chicago raised tuition to 4% to $55,416 for 2011-2012 and beyond.
At least the students at The University of Chicago have high odds to earn back their extremely high tuition fee… but what about the others of us who are not Ivy League material? Is it worth it to pay $100k – $250k for a college degree?
We were raised to think YES, but some are now arguing the opposite. In The Atlantic, Professor X returns to further on his original controversial article “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: University education for everyone is a destructive myth.” Professor X is a professor at a “college of last resort,” he calls it. In 2008, he wrote:
“I wonder, sometimes, at the conclusion of a course, when I fail nine out of 15 students, whether the college will send me a note either (1) informing me of a serious bottleneck in the march toward commencement and demanding that I pass more students, or (2) commending me on my fiscal ingenuity—my high failure rate forces students to pay for classes two or three times over.
What actually happens is that nothing happens. I feel no pressure from the colleges in either direction. My department chairpersons, on those rare occasions when I see them, are friendly, even warm. They don’t mention all those students who have failed my courses, and I don’t bring them up. There seems, as is often the case in colleges, to be a huge gulf between academia and reality. No one is thinking about the larger implications, let alone the morality, of admitting so many students to classes they cannot possibly pass.”
I took the GRE in 2005 and scored a measly 1040. While I’m not the best test taker, my skills weren’t that bad when I took the SAT years ago and got a 1240. My writing score on the GRE was also really awful considering that writing is what I do for a living. Then again, I’ve never been good at academic writing, so I wasn’t too surprised.
That’s why I’ve decided to retake the test and study MAO for it. At the very least, see how much I can improve my score by studying. I’m not too hopeful about the verbal or writing sections, but I’m pretty sure I can up my quantitative score if I study. I just forgot damn near everything about math… I haven’t even taken a real math course since 11th grade (I don’t count the Excel math class I took in college, what a joke!)
In the meantime, I really ought to start researching all the school’s I’m going to apply to, and more importantly, how on earth I will be able to afford them. I think that grad school would be ideal for me now, I’m much more mature than I was in undergrad, I’m ready to focus on learning about the topic I’m interested in, and also understand how it could benefit my professional life once I get through the program.
So… this summer I will be studying in my free time. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on those prep classes, that sounds like it would be such a waste. Maybe I’m wrong about that. I’m not sure what my ideal score would be, but given my 1240 on the SAT I’d like to at least get that on the GRE (though I know it is a different test.) And the writing section… I got a 4/6, I really should get a 5/6. But… 1240 isn’t really a good score for the GRE. It would be great if I could do really well… 1450 or something. I’ve never really studied for one of these tests before (I didn’t study for the SAT at all), I’m curious what I could do if I try.