Maybe you are familiar with the calls. They start out with a simple friendly hello, then the person asks to update your contact information, starts talking to you, asks how your life is going, then boom, the reason they really called comes out. They want your money. Its your alma mater, asking for donations. Maybe this time you’ll get a cool pair of socks along with your donation or a year subscription to your alma mater’s magazine so you can stay in touch with all the happenings of the school. They try to ensnare you, make you feel nostalgic, and not focus on the money until they need to. Even if you don’t answer the calls, the pleas come in other forms. They mail things to your house, intermingled with the bills and the credit card offers. There’s no escape.
The phone rings. It is another one of the dreaded calls from my college Alma Mater. Asking for donations. Again. I understand the value of education and I believe that overall, I’m better off with my education than I would be without it. I also understand that not everyone can afford college and that many need help with it. But in modern times I do not believe that the values that colleges are supposed to have are being honored. College costs have risen faster than any other sector and a lot of this is due to unnecessary spending and administrative bloat.
A lot of this is because colleges can. The demand has risen for college along with the cost. More and more students are told that they could go to college. That they should go to college. That they deserved to go to college. Many students were told that basically if they didn’t go to college they were throwing their lives away and they would amount to nothing. Then there was the access to student loans. It was easy money that students could get while they were young. Yes, college had a cost, but the bill didn’t come until later, so students adopted a go to college now and pay later attitude. This funneled more money into universities that started the college spending bubble. And this spending isn’t all going into helping students.
Let me share some of my college experiences. I attended a large public state research university. While I was there both the student fees and the price of tuition both DOUBLED. Here are some of the various happenings that have made me lose all faith that they are good stewards of anybody’s money. The gym on campus was renovated 5 times. Like major renovations every single time. There was barely a moment when the gym was not under renovations. And it was a pretty nice gym to begin with. It was housed in a giant building with many twisted hallways that made me feel like I was entering the bowels of some labyrinth when I went to the bottom floor. There were weight rooms, work out rooms, an indoor track, a 2 story rock wall, racquetball rooms, 2 indoor swimming pools, a basketball court, and more! This was before the renovations. Every time there was renovations we were left with pretty much the exact same facilities, but newer looking and shinier. These renovations were not necessary.
And the gym was not the end of it! Here are other happenings that went on:
- The library cafeteria atrium was renovated twice
- The bookstore had 3 separate locations on campus complete with new buildings each time.
- The student center was completely rebuilt during my time there despite students voting against the new student center because they didn’t want student fees to increase. (I didn’t have a student center until my last semester there because of this.)
- A brand new library was built on one of the campuses, so each main campus had a library but then they wouldn’t keep the library open past 8pm for “budgetary concerns”
- A new cafeteria and new dorms were also constructed
- The old chancellors mansion was renovated to become an art museum
- A brand new 8,500-square-foot mansion for the chancellor was constructed complete with a stunning view of a lake and walls and gates around the entire property.
Also, while I was there the chancellor and board of directors repeatably gave themselves raises while the student fees and tuition steadily climbed. Meanwhile, they blamed the cuts in state funding for the those rising tuition costs.
I hope that from the list above that what was apparent to me as a student will become apparent to you also. That my school doesn’t need money, it needs a financial makeover. During my time at the school I was never made to feel like anything other than a number. My classes were huge, my professors largely uncaring. I graduated with almost $40,000 dollars in debt despite working while I went to school. So when they call and ask for money, I say “I have paid you. I am still paying you. I pay you every month. Do not ask me for money.”