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Are Universities a Waste of Money?

A 4-year college education has become increasingly expensive while the quality of education has worsened compared to a generation ago. In the book “Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money And Failing Our Kids – And What We Can Do About It,” authors Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus claim that many universities are neglecting undergraduates education and spending too much money on deluxe dining room, extravagant dorm facilities, and state-of-the-art sport centers. He criticizes that many undergraduate degrees are vocational such as resort management, fashion merchandising, poultry science and ceramic engineering. Furthermore, many Ivy League professors don’t teach undergraduates, instead, the teaching is left to low-cost adjunct professors. Hacker says that the high price of tuition has little to do with teaching but more on the fact that administrators are spending too much money on something else.

How can colleges improve? Hacker suggests that all undergraduate education should be “liberal arts educations” where students can “think about enduring ideas” and issues of the human condition”. After they take the time to discover themselves and understand the world, they can go on to medical or law school and pursue their careers. Further suggestions include cutting back on sports programs, trimming bloated administrative budgets, and abolishing the tenure system.

Today, many graduates have six-figure loans to pay off. Students can save money and take out fewer loans by attending a good college closer to home. Hacker suggests that by doing so, they can avoid paying as much as $30,000 annually for out-of-state living expenses. However, if close to home is not an option, students need to find a place where teaching is the priority and they can get value for their money. Through personal teaching experiences, Hacker and Dreifus recommend Americans to choose the top 10 colleges that they like, which include the Arizona State University, Kentucky’s Berea College, Notre Dame, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



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