Is It Really Worth It?
- Article by Phillip Keller
- May 2, 2012
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a model student. I'm not always jazzed to go to class. I've had shitty professors and taken requirements that I will probably never use. I've bought books that I never opened once. But I've managed to do fairly well here, while also managing my intake of illicit substances at a healthy medium between recreational and problematic. Actually, I consider some of the lessons I've learned from those experiences to be far more valuable than the credits I've bought. That's what it's really about though, right? MSU is selling a product: It’s the promise of opportunities that would be unattainable without that coveted slip of paper. A piece of paper that is worth less and less each year, even as it gets more and more expensive to obtain.
Look at it this way. In-state tuition for a freshman next fall with a basic meal plan and a double room will cost $7,867.50. That’s over $15,000 per year selecting the cheapest options possible at MSU. To put that into more relatable terms, here are some things you can buy with fifteen large ones: a lightly used Honda Civic, a Scarface-sized pile of cocaine, $1.75 million in WoW gold, 200 kegs, or a tasty burrito every day for about seven years. In the long term, we're talking at least $60,000 for the whole shebang (diploma), with none of those frills or extras – like gas money or groceries. If I had that kind of money, my WoW character could comfortably retire. Instead, he's going to have to work his ass off for the next ten years slaying creatures for a pittance, living pay chest to pay chest and retiring to a double-wide trailer in some goddamn swamp. What kind of life is that?
At the same time, I've come to class hungover, tired, stoned, starving, and barely awake. I've walked straight to class after a dirty one-night stand, wearing my same clothes and, of course, shame. People still brag about how they passed a class without ever having to go. Considering that it costs you about $45 every time you skip, you might as well literally wipe your ass with that cash. Essentially, you'll end up paying over $3,000 for the privilege of downloading some slides. But if all of the necessary information is online, why come at all? The system has failed to provide any incentive to learn. How is it possible for a student in a Big Ten University to pass a class without attending it? And if this is the case, why are we paying the professors?
If attendance is required, some of these rich little ingrates don't realize or care about the amount of money being invested in them. To them, paying attention to a two-hour lecture might as well be water boarding. These are the kinds of kids who would rather get a retweet than a 4.0. They gaze stupidly into a tiny screen, worried that if they don't post their pithy sarcastic remarks online right away, those gems would be lost forever (completely oblivious to the fact that they are wasting time, money, and opportunities not available to a majority of the planet). But they found a loophole. Even if attendance is mandatory, learning is still optional. That is unless you consider playing Words with Friends an opportunity to learn…you’re increasing your vocabulary?
On top of all this, I know for a fact that MSU’s admission standards are too low because every time I'm assigned a group presentation, I get shackled to someone who needs their hand held through the rigorous task of putting PowerPoint slides together with an appropriate theme. If my classes require group discussions, it’s a good day when I can get more than a blank stare out of anyone. We have a system where effort is not required, and neither are the readings. It’s understandable to come to a university for a career instead of an education. Most people do. But while they’re here, they should be challenged and exposed to new experiences. They should be treated as an individual and not a product. They should be allowed to more freely explore their interests outside of course requirements. It would be convenient if I could place the blame on the student body, but people only deliver what you expect of them. Go Green! Go White! Go Mediocrity!