I read with interest an article in the Nov 27, 2011 Chronicle of Higher Education: “Debt Protestors Denounce Colleges For Broken Promises.” Eric Hoover’s article described the interesting ways in which Occupy Wall Street activists are protesting the high cost of attending college, including the possibility of mass pledges of intention to default on student loans (about which I have mixed feelings). In general, I found myself identifying with the plight of protestors at two levels:
Exorbitant Tuition Increases
First, knowing that college costs have increased 466% over the last 25 years, far surpassing the overall inflation rate of 107%, and even exceeding the inflation in health care costs, I feel for students and families today. Having walked away with my undergraduate and graduate degrees with relatively little debt thanks to scholarships and grants, I feel incredibly lucky, and terribly sympathetic for current students.
Secondly, since I launched my education consulting practice in 2007, just as the recession was getting going, I believe I have suffered along with many other small business folk just starting out (and established folks too) who are perceived as offering services that can be “done without” in the present climate.
Help With Reducing College Costs
While I do a fair amount of pro bono and discounted work as do many independent educational consultants, this generally means that I’m not yet making the sort of living I aspire to make, while at the same time many students and families aren’t getting help that might make a difference — including a difference in learning about ways of reducing the cost of college. Ironies abound.
For my own part I plan to continue raising my voice in protest against much of what is happening with the ever-expanding lack of accessibility of higher education, while at the same time disabusing clients as much as possible from the mistaken belief that the best education must be the most expensive education.
A version of this blogpost will appear this week on the website of the Independent Education Consultants Association: http://www.IECAonline.com/blog