Change in Higher Ed

One thing I believe should change in (American) university is tuition; although I don’t know how feasible it is. The other day I was on Facebook, and my high school teacher from the States posted that he finally paid off his student loan, after like twenty years.

I’m privileged enough that my parents paid for my tuition. As an international student, if I don’t have proof of funding for my college education, be it internal (from me myself or from my family) or external (from a grant or scholarship), I won’t be issued an I-20, or permission to study in United States. This country initially made of immigrants seems to have great fear of foreigners trying to stay here illegally.

As an international student, it is also illegal for me to work outside of campus, and obviously on campus work is not profitable enough for me to be financially independent. I graduated college one year early because I felt bad spending their money as an adult and didn’t want to rely on them any more.

Even now I look back on how much my parents put on my education, I still feel ridiculous. Higher education is important and it changed a lot of aspects of my life, but is it worth so much money? If I was back at age 15 and making the decision of attending an international high school to prepare myself for studying abroad or a traditional high school, I will 100% chose the latter. This “debt” to my parents also affected a lot of my life decisions – I can’t be unemployed or do jobs that make little money but important (like high school teachers); they’ve spent 2 million yuan on me. I have to do things that make it worth.

When MOOCs first came out I thought it would be the future of higher ed. I mean, a lot of universities are doing their own online classes. Under this quarantine classes are forced to transform into an online format, and some of them are working just fine. If in the end one is enrolled in college and taking most classes online anyways, what is the point of paying so much tuition?

But turns out MOOCs are not working that well. Coursera provides paid, verified certificate for course completion, but probably not a lot of companies acknowledge that. The intro classes are fine, but hardly any advanced level classes. One needs to actually work in a lab for some science classes. Face-to-face communication between the professor and students are important for seminars. There is still a long way to go for MOOCs.

As far as I know Virginia Tech is not issuing refunds of spring tuition to students, because “instructional costs have gone up after the university moved nearly 6,000 of its classes online“. Business Insider outlined a bright future of higher ed: “it’s (tuition) only going to get worse.”

 

3 Replies to “Change in Higher Ed”

  1. Hi Yezi! I completely agree with your post–tuition is absurdly high in the United States, and that is something that can definitely be changed in the future. Though I am not an international student and my parents did not have to take out loans to pay for my undergraduate education, I feel the same guilt that you do–wondering if it was worth it. My parents paid $30 thousand for my undergraduate education–money that could have been put to use elsewhere if they did not have to spend it on me. I think that like healthcare, education should be a right for every student in America to recieve.

  2. Thank you for your post! Undergraduate education is very expensive, which is why some students opt to attend two-year institutions for their first year or two and then transfer to four-year institutions. However, there really isn’t a great bridge between two-year and four-year institutions, meaning a lot of students, mostly minority and low-income students, never even transfer or complete their two-year degree. Land grant institutions were created to be affordable for people of that state, but now they are so costly. I really think undergraduate education should be more affordable, because at this point it is just a privilege for some people

  3. Hi Yezi! Thank you for sharing. I really related to this blog post. Even though I am not an international student, I empathized with the statements you made about pursuing higher education and how you felt you owed it to your parents to do well. I am a first-generation college student and my mom is an immigrant, and all throughout college my biggest driving force to be successful was because I owed it to them. My parents made so many sacrifices for me so I could be where I am today and have the future I aspire to achieve. I agree with you that college in America is astoundingly expensive, but there are ways to make it affordable. For instance, going to a college out-of-state may be double the price than if you attended an in-state college. Likewise, public colleges tend to be more affordable than private colleges; however, there are some exceptions to this. For me, the tuition was WAY cheaper at a private college, because I was more scholarships. To justify the costs of student loans, I like to think that attending college is an investment in myself. Sure, college tuition is expensive, but it will be worth it in the end.

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