The Questionable Logic of Rising College Prices

CNN attempts to neatly summarize why the price of college tuition has been rising so much more steeply than the inflation rate, and whether graduates of expensive colleges actually get a decent payoff from their education investment.

Wesleyan gets a special shout-out as a prime example of an elite, high-quality school that is mad expensive for questionable reasons:

Calls to “give back” always seem to resonate at elite schools like Wesleyan, a picture postcard of academic abundance on its 360-acre wooded campus, complete with state-of-the-art film center, 7,500-square-foot fitness facility, skating rink, 11-building arts complex and a new $47 million student center offering everything from Mongolian grill entrées to organically grown coffee.

As for actually entering a career in public service, Graduate, good luck with that.

Ok college is ridiculously expensive, this is nothing new. The rest of the article brings up familiar points: elite schools spend way too much money on fancy buildings which could be spent on financial aid; this profligate spending is just an effort to increase college rankings that measure wealth, not quality, because this will increase application yield; and people think paying more means they get more from colleges, when that is not at all a guarantee.

Also, studies apparently showed that graduates of elite colleges generally end up with jobs paying similar incomes as the ones earned by those who were accepted by the elites, but chose to attend cheaper schools. Then there is the whole massive debt thing.

It ends on the note that at least you will have had a possibly excellent experience for your troubles?

…College, though, is also about forging lifelong friendships, being challenged by professors and students and sharing traditions – all of which are impossible to quantify. Still, there’s no reason to overpay for the experience. From a purely economic point of view, the best advice might be this: Save your money; you’ll need it for graduate school.

A little late for that advice, so basically as a Wesleyan student, good luck in this economy and don’t fritter away your increasingly valuable undergrad years, especially if you are paying a shitload for them.

CNN.com: Is college still worth the price?

26 thoughts on “The Questionable Logic of Rising College Prices

  1. Anonymous

    Was this written by the director of financial aid…or someone who has no idea at the individual level how paltry Wes’ finaid packages are…?”Absolutely WES’s financial aid packages are some of the best in the nation.”

  2. Anonymous

    Was this written by the director of financial aid…or someone who has no idea at the individual level how paltry Wes’ finaid packages are…?

    “Absolutely WES’s financial aid packages are some of the best in the nation.”

  3. Anonymous

    My sister is going to Williams this year and all I hear about at home is how much her financial aid package makes my Wesleyan one completely laughable. So now despite my love of Wes I feel guilty having picked it over cheaper alternatives, and this article just sort of rubs it in.

  4. Anonymous

    My sister is going to Williams this year and all I hear about at home is how much her financial aid package makes my Wesleyan one completely laughable. So now despite my love of Wes I feel guilty having picked it over cheaper alternatives, and this article just sort of rubs it in.

  5. Anonymous

    Absolutely WES's financial aid packages are some of the best in the nation. No, we do not have the capacity to have no loans like the Harvards, Yales, and Williams…but, the fact that we can cap all loans to $19k a year – and replace all loans for those students who's families make less than $40k – very few schools can do that. We certainly don't have the top financial aid packages – but they are damn good compared with most colleges & universities.

  6. Anonymous

    Absolutely WES's financial aid packages are some of the best in the nation. No, we do not have the capacity to have no loans like the Harvards, Yales, and Williams…but, the fact that we can cap all loans to $19k a year – and replace all loans for those students who's families make less than $40k – very few schools can do that. We certainly don't have the top financial aid packages – but they are damn good compared with most colleges & universities.

  7. Anonymous

    uh Wes financial aid packages are not some of the best in the nation. they’ve gotten better, but there are much better ones out there. also chalking rising college prices up to supply and demand is way too simple, did you even look at the article?

  8. Anonymous

    uh Wes financial aid packages are not some of the best in the nation. they’ve gotten better, but there are much better ones out there.

    also chalking rising college prices up to supply and demand is way too simple, did you even look at the article?

  9. Anonymous

    Oh yeah, how dare a school have a skating rink! To think, the school wants to have a hockey team or something.

  10. Anonymous

    Oh yeah, how dare a school have a skating rink! To think, the school wants to have a hockey team or something.

  11. Anonymous

    The points made about Wesleyan are poor at best. First, the state-of-the-art film center was mainly built off alumni donations. Second, the 7,5000 square fitness facility is nothing compared to most school’s. Many colleges actually have two gyms one for athletes and one for normal students (has anyone seen the gym it replaced which was less than adequate). Third, is it bad to support the arts at a liberal arts school by having many small buildings providing a very personal and comforting set for students to work? Last, I never ate at Usdan but knocking organic coffee sold using fair trade practices is very interesting. Finally, the financial aid packages at Wesleyan are some of the best in the nation, and Roth has progressed significantly with the policy changes last year. Look into them if you don’t know them.There will always be haters, I guess. Some of them just have jobs for a news website.

  12. Anonymous

    The points made about Wesleyan are poor at best. First, the state-of-the-art film center was mainly built off alumni donations. Second, the 7,5000 square fitness facility is nothing compared to most school’s. Many colleges actually have two gyms one for athletes and one for normal students (has anyone seen the gym it replaced which was less than adequate).

    Third, is it bad to support the arts at a liberal arts school by having many small buildings providing a very personal and comforting set for students to work? Last, I never ate at Usdan but knocking organic coffee sold using fair trade practices is very interesting. Finally, the financial aid packages at Wesleyan are some of the best in the nation, and Roth has progressed significantly with the policy changes last year. Look into them if you don’t know them.

    There will always be haters, I guess. Some of them just have jobs for a news website.

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