What happened to higher education?

As tuition prices continue to rise almost annually, the question is being raised about whether or not higher education is more of a business now than an institution.

We’ve all heard the stories, be it from our parents or grandparents, about how inexpensive college was “back in the day.” It’s become a cliché to tell younger generations how college tuition was paid by working at a local diner, or a bar, in the past. Educations from prestigious, and well respected, colleges were affordable back then, and sadly this is not the case anymore. Have you ever sat back and wondered why?

A recent film, entitled “The Ivory Tower,” raises an interesting question: “Is college worth the cost?” As tuitions continue to rise, we start to see interesting changes taking place around campuses in our country. A new library here. A new football stadium there. Maybe even a new administration building over there.

Have you ever wondered where the money for all of these “improvements” is coming from? Granted, some of it is being paid for via the tax money that goes into the maintenance and cosmetic upkeep of these campuses. But how much of it is also coming from the tuition of said campuses’ students? We look at prestigious schools, such as Stanford and Notre Dame, and are forced to ask a simple question: Is the cost of an education worth it now a days?

How many men and women graduate with college degrees on an annual basis? I’m sure the number is growing more and more every year. But the real question that you should be asking yourself is this: How many of those graduates are finding jobs that coincide with their degrees?

There are so many instances of college graduates ending up in the service industry these day’s that it’s ending up as a stereotype. Society is so quick to write it off, blaming the choice of major or the school of choice for the occupations being filled. “Oh, your degree is in sociology? You should have picked a more practical major.” “You graduated from where? Well I’ve never heard of that college, now where’s my decaf chai tea?” The jibes can go on and on. We’re getting so accustomed to our college graduates being relegated to the service industry that these questions have become common place.

All of this forces us to ask a serious question: What happened to our higher education? Has the quality of that education been compromised as tuitions continue to rise? Are we not getting the education that we are in fact paying for? How many years will it take before college, and the pursuit of a degree, just doesn’t sound appealing to high school graduates anymore? If the achievement of such a degree doesn’t open more doors for us in the future, is there a purpose to the degree at all?