Back to $chool

It’s that time of year where students return to school and to be honest, I’m still miffed at the costs associated with college. It impacted me 35 years ago when I first attended and it bothers me to this day as I watch my children and the offspring of others pay fee after fee just to attend. In order to boost society, education should be free, period. The only time you should pay is if you quit or flunk out as you have wasted the opportunity. This would help students to choose their major wisely.

Engineering school costs from one source are quoted as, “The yearly expenses associated with tuition, fees, books, supplies, room and board can range anywhere from $13,000 to more than $60,000 depending on where you go to school.” That means an education could set you back a quarter mil after four years.

Like it or not, advanced education is a lucrative industry. The money is made from student attendance as well as on the backs of students. Graduate students are one of the highest forms of slave labor in this country. Tuition, fees, books; all are a continuous treadmill of costs that never subside. Then there are the other “fees” such as parking, activities, etc. The convenience of on campus meals are offset by unreasonable prices as well as subpar food. A semester of consuming this often results in declining health and weight gain. Couple that with the stress and it’s no wonder why so many people get ill in modern society.

Although the internet has freed up education considerably in terms of access, it also creates more ways to charge students. Not only are they charged to access books, homework, and courses online, they are left with paying for the printing costs. So much for electronic media lowering costs and reducing paper usage.

Most of these fees are unnecessary. This is especially true at colleges with big name sports. Herein lies another method of taking advantage of students who sacrifice their bodies and risk injury so the school can claim bragging rights or enable attendance at one of the many prestigious bowls.

They say that the Carrier Dome sets the basketball attendance record before the season even starts due to season ticket sales. However, it’s also rumored that the school associated with that venue doesn’t disclose the income from the Carrier Dome. Throw in lucrative TV contracts like Ego Dame’s exclusive deal and you have a money making machine. I doubt the tarnished dome does either. Why would they? It would be justification for lower tuition. We can’t have that exist and greed too.

All of this income is not enough of course. Universities continuously beg for alumni contributions and industry contributions. Universities also make income off of patents that students and staff develop.

Today’s students are leaving college with a huge burden of loans to pay back. Many of these investments don’t match the income that will result. The greed of praying off the hopes of those who wish to improve their future is quite sickening. If we are to improve as a society, the model needs to transition in a manner where advanced education is available to all. As far as costs, I don’t believe this burden should be on the taxpayers. Instead, how about having the industries that benefit from educated workers fit the bill. See how much they squawk when a large percentage of their profits are taken by the government as taxes for education. It’s currently disproportionately high for the average America and getting higher all of the time. Why should the taxpayer also be stuck with paying to educate themselves or their children? Let’s close the loopholes and advance our population’s education level instead of making a quick buck that results in the eventual degradation of society.


  1. How Much Does Electrical Engineering School Cost?”

8 comments on “Back to $chool

  1. maxim17
    August 30, 2016

    This is indeed the return and I say knowingly because I have my final coming into cm2 Monday.

  2. jimfordbroadcom
    August 31, 2016

    Hi, Scott.  Yeah, I'm in the same boat.  My sons just started 6th and 7th grade, and I'm wondering how they/we are going to pay for college.  It was bad enough 30 years ago when I was in engineering school, but now it seems like an order of magnitude more expensive, with my salary maybe double what my dad was making back then.  I was floored when I heard that my alma mater, Case Western Reserve U., was raising tuition to become more competitive with other similar schools!  What?!  Not that the price of providing an education was going up due to inflation or whatever, no, they are raising the price because everybody else is doing it!  Gee, that's a real incentive for alumni donations!  Not!  Amazing to me how money flows in organizations that don't have to show a profit!  At least in for-profit corporations most of it makes sense.

    Here's another good one: when I was in school at CWRU, some unscrupulous students cooked up a plan to “borrow” a cashier's check from the controller's office, invest the money in stocks, launder the profits through Panamanian banks, and return the money before anyone was the wiser.  Well, this was the fall of 1987, and in October of that year, the stock market crashed, and they lost it all.  The guy working in the controller's office got cold feet and threatened to rat the others out.  Well, they tried to blackmail him because he was gay (you cannot make this stuff up!).  He spilled the beans anyway, and here's the kicker: the school said if he hadn't blown the whistle, they never would have known about the $83,000 cashier's check!  That was enough money back then to put several people through a 4-year program, and it would have just fallen through the cracks?!  Wow!

    And don't get me started about crappy college food for outrageous prices!  Back then we had Professional Food Management (PFM) preparing the food in the dining halls.  One student rather politely said PFM stood for Perfectly Forgetable Meal, and another not so politely called it Petrified Fecal Matter!  I tell you, anybody who complains about airline food did not go to school where I did!  We would have loved to have had the delicacies served on airplanes!

  3. maurice32
    September 1, 2016

    My daughter also goes to school today, the separation was pretty hard especially for his mother, but you must!

  4. DSPer
    September 1, 2016

    I agree with this entire article except the notion that college should be free because it “boosts” society. Obtaining a foo-foo degree in Graphic Design, Women's Studies, Black History, etc., does not “boost” society. The poor shmucks that obtain such degrees end up working at Starbucks or not working at all.


    For college to be free I, as a tax payer, would have to pay for those useless degrees. The dishonest clowns running our Federal Government have no right to force me to pay for someone's dead-end Liberal Arts degree.


    I believe the fault of high college costs lies with our Federal government creating a “Federal Student Loans” program. Like the vast majority of Federal programs, the Student Loans program is a complete disaster that harms the majority of the people it's supposed to help.


    When they saw the bottomless pit of money that the Federal government was willing to hand out, college administrators drastically raised tuition costs while creating all manner of useless degree programs to attract students who have no business going to college in the first place. Universities, like big banks and insurance companies, are NOT your friend. Universities are “big business” and their business is making money.


    Because of poor parenting, too many high school graduates do not have the common sense to realize the stupidity in borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a year's worth of room & board and food. Mr. Deuty, did you ever go to a bank and borrow money to pay for a year's worth of room & board and food?


    What scares me is the growing sentiment among our Rulers in Washington D.C. that no one should be unhappy due to poor decisions they've made. And because outstanding student loans makes college graduates unhappy, then those loans should be removed from the graduates and placed on the backs of working taxpayers.

  5. Lucas12
    September 4, 2016

    yes, finished the holiday, back to school. For My two children will be tomorrow. it would be a little sad 🙂

  6. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    September 6, 2016

    Thanks for responding.  Yes I did have to borrow money to live in graduate school although I was on a scholarship.  It was something to do with working 80 hour weeks for 1/4 of the income.  When HP opened a design center in Taiwan and sent an engineer over to be trained, I handed him a brochure for my graduate school and told him it cost me $50,000 in lost income and two years of my life.  Consider yourself trained.  In other words, I loved being a mentor however training someone to take my job and move it overseas was a bit much to “axe” of me. 

    As for the education of those who end up without a career, there wasn't enough room to blog about that.  Now that I'm on the other side and have written business plans for myself and my clients, I believe that a college entrance exam should include a business plan on the market for the chosen major based on current salaries and availability.  If the plan isn't profitable, the tuition becomes the cost to the student.  Similarly, each year should require an updated business plan as markets shift and students change majors (a common dropout attrition of 50% per semester is common in engineering).  The business plan should include the amount of time wasted taking courses that no longer apply and a plan to return to profitability.

    Finally, there are those out there with majors that don't apply to any market.  True we should pursue our interests and career happiness for the best results however no one will put food on your table if there isn't an ROI for the efforts involved.  If I look back at a certain school that was once handing out valid degrees for prosperous careers, I now see a funded four year party so that they can go back to working for daddy's company on Long Island or in New York City.  To me, that's not progress in society.  Rather, it's an extension of the Good Old Boy network from which the greed originates.  

  7. Effective-Technical-Writing dot com
    September 6, 2016

    My wife (at the time) cried when both boys headed off to school in kindergarten.  I was more looking forward to the stories about growing up in college.  Although I have two sons that are Eagle Scouts, I use my favorite movie line from “Back to School” quite often.  “I had two sons, one I put troo college.  De udder I put troo da wall.”

  8. Lalie23
    September 18, 2016

    The holidays are over. I think all parents have that sadness at the time of school entrance of her children.

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