Twelfth Grade

Unit 1, CFA Task 1- Option #2

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Unit 1, CFA Task 1- Option #2

Unit 1, CFA Task 1- Source A
Cost of Top Colleges Has Outpaced the Value

The astronomical price of a liberal arts college is far beyond its return.

By Andrew Hacker

Aug. 17, 2010

Andrew Hacker teaches political science at Queens College and is coauthor, with Claudia Dreifus, of the book Higher Education?

Let me be clear at the start: I strongly support a four-year liberal arts education. If I had my way, all of our 16 million undergraduates would major in fields like philosophy, history, and the sciences, rather than vocational programs. Pondering enduring ideas is a far better use of precious college years than fashion merchandising or sports management.

But $200,000 over a four-year span? That’s what tuition, fees, room, and board are costing at colleges like Ken­yon ($50,400), Reed ($51,850), and Bowdoin ($52,880). It is true that not everyone pays the full sticker figure. But then the posted prices don’t include travel, clothing, and nights out with friends. Even more crucial, most of what you’re paying isn’t for education. Let’s look at where the tuition and fees part of your check (about $40,000) is going.

Almost all college teams run a deficit. Even at the high-powered University of Southern California, the men’s basketball program loses $888,673 annually, while its golf team requires $33,961 per player. Bowdoin, with only 1,771 students, fields 37 money-losing squads, all with salaried coaches, travel costs, and customized jerseys. Mens sana in corpore sano—a healthy mind in a healthy body—is fine. But does anyone want to argue that golf is a liberal art?

And in academics, it’s no longer threadbare Mr. Chips. At research universities, tuition bills include stratospheric salaries for star faculty. But even at Occidental College, full professors now average $110,000 for a nine-month year, an increasingly common sum. And due to tenure, they make up most of its faculty. Intimate education, such as small seminars, is highly labor intensive. And intensively expensive. 

Liberal arts colleges like to boast of their low student-faculty ratios. But watch out. Their professors may be taking leaves—which are largely paid under “tuition”—and so won’t be teaching your offspring. At one school my coauthor and I visited while researching our book on the cost of college, fully 40 percent of one department’s faculty were away. Nor is it clear that doing research improves teaching. Much of it is now so esoteric that it can only be deciphered by other professors.

Note the near-identical figures for Ken­yon, Reed, and Bowdoin. Coincidence? You’re being asked for $50,000 not due to the cost of education, but because colleges figure this is what the traffic (that’s you) will pay. Even super-endowed Swarthmore is billing $51,500.

Let’s return to the four-year payout. Sadly, few parents are putting much, if anything, into college savings. So the checks are more often being written by students themselves, who are taking out larger and larger loans. Is a $200,000 degree worth it? Not if a generation of Americans will be commencing their adult lives with huge debts, plus very real prospects of default.

Are we talking about a good education or a brand-name degree? There are several hundred private liberal arts programs, either in universities or at freestanding schools. Yet many without widely-known names are charging close to $50,000, even though there’s no assurance their degrees will open doors. For our book, we tracked graduates of a top college, and found most had quite average lives. On the other hand, corporate CEOs are more likely to have attended regional schools, like Louisiana Tech, Wichita State, and Central Connecticut.

[See U.S. News's list of best public universities.]

In visiting campuses, we found schools where you can get a fine liberal arts education at a relatively modest price. Public universities like Arizona State and Ole Miss have Honors Colleges, with caring professors and small classes. But we’d also recommend considering taking your first two years at a community college. They all have liberal arts sequences, also with small classes, where you can get to know the faculty. At Oregon’s Portland Community College, we spoke with enthusiastic students, who pay an annual $3,666. State systems make it easy to transfer to a four-year campus, like Western Oregon in the coastal wine country, which emphasizes the liberal arts. Its tuition, room, and board come to $15,294, bringing a four-year total at the two schools to $37,920.
Opportunities like these exist in almost every state. Take a look.

Unit 1, CFA Task 1- Source B
College Costs Are Dollars Well Spent

A liberal arts education is worth every penny.

By Ronald Daniels

Aug. 17, 2010

Ronald Daniels is the president of Johns Hopkins University. Previously he was provost at the University of Pennsylvania.

What does it cost to go to one of America’s top private liberal arts colleges or universities for a year? $50,000? $20,000? Not a penny?

Answer: All of the above. It depends on what you can afford.

Not everyone can write a check for the full price of a year at a private college or university. Fortunately, we don’t ask everyone to do so.

At our best private institutions, if you can’t afford the sticker price, you won’t pay it. These colleges and universities are deeply committed to bringing the most promising young scholars to campus, no matter their families’ wealth or income. 

In fact, they are more committed than ever. Even in the face of the Great Recession, the nation’s top private research universities and liberal arts colleges are awarding larger financial aid packages to more students. Over the past five years, the median need-based aid grant at those schools has increased in size by a third; more than half of last year’s freshmen received aid.

At my own institution, for instance, undergraduate tuition is up 3.9 percent this fall in our schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, but the financial aid budget is up 11.3 percent from a year ago to $61.1 million. We admitted this year’s freshman class on a need-blind basis; we will provide grant aid to 47 percent of freshmen this fall, up from 34 percent last year. The average grant is up $2,300 to more than $29,000.

At the top private colleges like Johns Hopkins, then, we open our doors not to students whose parents can cut the check, but to those who can do the work and benefit from the opportunities we offer.

[See U.S. News's list of top liberal arts colleges.]

What are those opportunities? At these top schools, you are taught by world-class historians, philosophers, and literary scholars how to analyze, evaluate, critique—in other words, how to think—and how to communicate your conclusions effectively. You learn about discoveries in the hottest fields—neuroscience, public health, astrophysics, economics—directly from the professors who make them.

You can, in fact, help make those discoveries. At Johns Hopkins, we send our students into research labs on campus and to field research opportunities around the world; they do important, original work, often published in scholarly journals. Our undergraduates—apprenticing with senior faculty members—have controlled a NASA satellite, documented the hazards of gold mining in Mongolia, investigated the impact of change on impoverished families in Alabama, and written software to direct robots in mapping their environment.

If working with the best faculty makes a difference, so too does working with the best students. Inside the classroom and out, your intellect—and your world view—is sharpened by exposure to the diverse ideas of fellow students from around the country and around the world, and by their reaction to your own ideas.

And we are committed to helping you put what you’ve learned to use, in the community and in the world. I would never argue that you can’t get an excellent education at a public college or university with a less expensive “sticker price” tuition. Of course you can! At Johns Hopkins, our faculty and graduate student ranks are full of very talented, very well-educated graduates of public institutions.

But I would argue this: You should not automatically eliminate private colleges and universities from your consideration any more than you should automatically eliminate public schools.

And you especially shouldn’t eliminate them on the basis of cost. If a private institution, even one with a daunting sticker price, is the right school for you, it’s more than likely that the aid is there to make it possible for you to enroll.

Is it worth it? Don’t take my word for it. Ask a student at a private college or university. Ask our alumni. I’ll bet they’ll tell you the same thing they tell us: Yes.

Unit 1, CFA Task 1- Source C

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