Emma Meshell: Colleges are becoming more like adult summer camps. These ridiculous classes are proof. (OPINION)
Tailgating, belly dancing, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – you’d think I was listing off a few absurd ways to waste a weekend, but these are all for-credit courses that students will be taking at University of California-Berkeley and the University of South Carolina this fall. Our colleges and universities need to focus on delivering a product that offers a return on investment, but instead, they’re more concerned with extending childhood.
College has become a summer camp for adults, and taxpayers are footing the bill. The cost of education has become astronomical: an average of $25,000 per year at a public, in-state college and $50,000 at a private college. For that much money, schools need to be delivering value and applicable skills to students – not belly dancing and tailgating.
Even more concerning is that this is happening while 2020 Democrat candidates propose free college tuition and debt forgiveness. Their approach to higher education’s failures is to guarantee its funding indefinitely. While they should be calling out higher education for ratcheting up costs through ridiculous classes and ever-growing, bloated administrations, these far-left politicians want to lock in its stream of revenue forever. Higher education isn’t too big to fail, and taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to bail it out. Especially given that the average millennial holds more than $34,000 in student loan debt and Generation Z graduates are estimated to take on about $30,000 by graduation.
Guaranteeing debt repayment and free tuition is the absolute worst thing we could do to fix the cost of college.
Often forgotten in this debate are the diligent college students who are there to get an actual education. To them, these classes aren’t just a waste of time – they’re an insult. Serious students are forced to pay more and more each year, watching their tuition and fees go into a pile of cash that university administrators get to decide how to spend. And rather than providing increased value, those at the helm of major universities like Berkeley and USC are spending in the most absurd ways you can imagine.
Students should be able to trust that their university is charging them the minimum amount needed to gain a quality, impactful education. They don’t want belly dancing classes – they want to be equipped for successful careers. Research shows that Gen Z students are more likely than millennials to choose non-traditional educational paths due to the cost of college. If anything, higher education should be scrambling to improve its offerings and respect among prospective students.
But rather than allowing skepticism to incentivize schools to get their act together, our government has decided to guarantee federal loans, giving colleges zero reason to cut spending and reduce costs. At Campus Reform, we’ve spent the last decade reporting on waste in higher education – a cursory glance through our coverage shows just how little universities and colleges deserve unlimited funding.
There’s nothing wrong with learning how to cook a burger on the grill, and I’m certainly not hating on anyone for being a Harry Potter fan. But the fact is that Americans are kissing a piece of every paycheck goodbye so our universities can run adult summer camps. If we want this absurdity to end anytime soon, it’s time to put universities on the hook for their educational offerings – not taxpayers.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @emma_meshell