SOS: Support Our Students

So for today, a small rant about really truly helping students as they seek to educate themselves beyond the mandated 12 years. See, I work in retention. This means I get to work with some amazing students. I get to watch those students do incredible things. I get excited with them and for them. I get to talk about their plans, hopes, and dreams. And in some cases, unfortunately, I have to discuss how that may no longer be an option for them.

See, today many people are focused on how they did it for themselves. Several people make arguments about working full-time and being able to afford college. There are a few issues with that. Others make arguments about standards for admissions and admission requirements. These tend to be the policy makers, several of whom have never had to tell one of these students they are failing that they are failing them. Many of them, for that matter, have never been in the shoes of those who may struggle.

For example, perhaps you have seen this graphic:


And there are several sources noting this. So then there are the complaints about the cost of college or all the extra frills that people pay for these days (not only things like lazy rivers but also things like food and regular student fees). They are right that the cost of college has risen quite some amount since the 1970 year noted above. But one should also note how far state support of that education has fallen. State’s, in 1970 (and federal) covered 75% of the institutional budgets. Today, they only cover about 23% across the nation whereas Tuition covers 25% (it has finally surpassed government). Back in the 1970’s schools were funded because an educated population was considered a public good. It is better to have individuals more educated, more prepared for their careers, which will naturally lead to a greater output and greater taxes, etc. The same argument as to why a company who uses state maintained roads should be required to pay their fair share of taxes (I am not debating what is a fair tax, just the idea of a public good).

So then we move on to these ideas of frills. That includes things like lazy rivers, movie theaters, and nicer gym facilities. Many individuals fail to realize that typically a small portion of the fees go to these facilities and often times these areas offer things such as on-campus jobs to students.

As a side note, students who work on campus tend to do better academically than those who work off. The same is true for those who live on as opposed to off. This is not to say that those who live and work off campus do not do well, but that on average, those who live and work on campus tend to do better.

The other elements of this “rise in tuition and fees” goes to supporting what many assume to be “administrative bloat” or the idea of paying for services that aren’t needed.Because someone like me, who supports these students, isn’t necessary. Because academic advisors aren’t necessary since professors can do it. And naturally, they go off with the” Back in MY day” arguments and the inevitable follow up of, “Well if they can’t cut it” sort of argument. First of all, if you do not feel it is okay to support someone else because they are not going through whatever challenges you did or because they are receiving more support than you did, please reconsider your priorities. Not only is that a selfish mentality, but it is the same line of thought that has led to extreme hazing in different organizations. On top of that, students are competing in settings designed for Rich, Christian, White Men. Failing to fall into all of those identities does create additional pressure.

So what about these other “Frills” such as things like internships, living on campus, clubs, and organizations?

Well, as I noted earlier about living on campus, it tends to lead to better academic performance. As for the clubs and involvement, the same thing is true. Students who are involved and engaged tend to be more likely to persist in their education. As such, supporting these students where they can be involved as opposed to having to work full-time just to live seems like a practical solution.

But hey…What do I know.


About rigsurfer

A Brother of Delta Upsilon International Fraternity, Inc., Joined in Fall 2010. Completed a B.A. in English at North Carolina State University in 2013 and received a M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Texas Tech University in 2015. Passionate about Leadership and Diversity as well as Ducks, Scooby Doo, and reading.
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