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Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission? Essay

“Graduating with six figures’ worth of debt is becoming increasingly common.” (179) In the essay “Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission” Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus discussed about how the price of college education is increasing, while the quality of some teachers is decreasing. Hacker and Dreifus gave tips on how to make college education successful. Hacker and Dreifus included the tips they discovered including money, faculty-student relations, classes that should be taken, graduate schools, and teaching techniques; the two also visited schools across the United States from University of Mississippi to Western Oregon and figured out what those schools were doing right to have a good success rate. Many schools have forgotten what it’s like to give a student an education that is worth their time and money. Most kids go into several thousands of dollars of debt and come out with a negligent education. If schools were to pay better attention to the tips given, they would be more likely to succeed in educating students. Hacker and Dreifus believe that all students should be involved in the learning process.

The students must love to learn what they are learning about; but in order for that to happen teachers must love what they are teaching about and care for their students. All students must be able to use their minds. “64% of undergraduate students are enrolled in vocational majors, instead of choosing fields like philosophy, literature, or physical science.” (180) Those classes are much more difficult than general classes. Students should not be able to go through college and never be challenged; they are paying for a challenge. If a student’s relationship to faculty members is good then they will get a better education. The education shouldn’t just be the teacher not knowing names, and teaching; the relationship should be the teacher knows what the student wants to do with the degree. But, instead many teachers are apathetic when it comes to a students learning. The teacher gets paid whether they teach well or not. Another problem is many teachers are getting a sabbatical, which allows them to get time off every 7 years. The reasoning of sabbaticals is so teachers can expand the research field but as Hacker and Dreifus pondered, ”Do we really need that many new books or articles?”(181) The president of the school typically does no know their students.

The presidents are just in the business for the money, not the student’s individual education. Some teachers try to focus on sending students to graduate school and not worry about the ones stopping their education after their two or four year degree. Schools believe that they need all of the big graduate schools on their campus. But in reality there are plenty of graduate schools in the United States. Not every school needs a graduate or medical school; in fact, “Princeton University has succeeded quite nicely without a medical school.”(182) Princeton University is an Ivy League school, and if they are doing just fine without a medical school, chances are your school will do fine also. People donate money and services to schools. That’s nice and considerate of them but most people send money to the big schools that everybody knows and hears about. Then those schools then have too many donations and begin buying unimportant things.

People should try sending their money to small schools that could truly use the money and be much more thankful for it. A bundle of new teaching techniques are now available for teachers to use. Teachers need to be able to offer multiple techniques. Some techniques work better for some students, while others do not. In order for students to get the best education, they will need to use the technique that works best for them. Hacker and Dreifus visited campuses across the United States from the University of Mississippi to Western Oregon. Many of the things each of the schools had in common was that they focused on the students, had professors that cared about their field of study, and didn’t charge the most outrageous prices. “Only 10% of the classes are taught by graduate assistants” (184) was found during researching the school of Notre Dame. A school that wants to be successful cannot have a majority of classes taught by graduate assistants.

Berea College and Cooper Union were both schools that students received tuition free; there were alternatives, such as labor jobs for them to pay off tuition, therefore students were not stressed about their education debt. Evergreen State College was a school that did not give letter grades. Each student was given an evaluation sheet at the end of the year. Surprisingly, the school is very successful with reports of “82% found full time employment within a year, and 93% that applied to graduate school was accepted” (188) The teachers must pay some attention to undergraduate students, so they can succeed and hopefully go up to the next level of education.

The key to a successful school is paying attention to your undergraduates and not making them pay so much money for a bad quality education. Schools need to keep in mind the tips given. Remember Hacker and Dreifus think that money, faculty-student relations, the choice of classes, the amount of graduate schools on campus, and teaching techniques are important tips to giving a student a successful education. The two learned the tips from visiting a variety of schools and doing research!

Hacker, Andrew and Claudia Dreifus. “Are College Worth the Price of Admission?” They say I say: With Readings. 2nd edition. Cathy Birkenstein, Gerald Graff, Russel Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 179-189. Print.

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