After reading this article there are few questions that came to mind: what does free exactly means? Can college really be free? How do we balance ‘free’ higher education with a competitive job market? Who benefits from ‘free’ education? How do we generate quality from ‘free’ education?
Personally, I think its sensible to think that the whole concept of ‘free’ education has many stipulations that are not always positive.
It would be great if everyone could access the level of education they desire, and the best quality thereof but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to happen. Free education is a complicated concept. In Latin America, for example, higher education is free but it doesn’t make society any smarter. In some Caribbean countries, college is free (That includes tuition), and that means some people register and not show up for classes and even so, those classes dont turn out the best students. That creates social costs and sometimes poverty. While we discuss accessibility we ought to also consider effectiveness. On a large scale, taking money from one productive area and putting it in a less productive area is counterproductive.
Should college be accessible? Yes. Should it be free? If that means debt free college, it would be interesting to see how that would work for a population of over 300 million people under a capitalist system.
So I was recently having a talk with a friend about the cost of school and no doubt school is expensive, especially in America, but that cost has so much baggage to it. The way I see higher education here is that you have to go to a good school and a good schools cost a lot of money. The way she explained it, is that school is a vicious cycle: you have to go to school to get a good job and you need a good job to pay for school. That’s simply ridiculous. Furthermore she has years of debt that is just painful to listen to. If you are graduating school, your biggest priority might be getting out of school debt… not getting a house, or a car or the American dream…but getting out of debt. Getting into college is even more difficult… why does school cost so much?
A lot of these schools have great facilities and that cost money. The high maintenance cost then get factored into how much students have to pay for school and the absurd cost of attending Ivy league colleges has normalized the cost of college, especially for schools trying to perform at par. Among other factors.
But Free education would be a dream come true and it may not necessarily be the dream that we want. College should definitely be affordable and merit based but we are a long way from debt-free, ‘free’, tuition free four-year college education that brings out the best quality.
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