Kaitlyn D. Virginia

The Constraints of an Intellectual Generation

The high costs of college.

Dear President,

Some might say that teenagers are too self-involved in their own miniscule nuisances to notice any issues that complicate the lives of the average U.S. adult. I, a junior in high school, along with others in my 2018 class have begun to be troubled by these “adult problems”. The main problem being the excruciatingly high costs of a college education.

As our high school days grow numbered, those of us seeking a college education begin to search for colleges that offer them the kind of education they desire. Getting a college education has always been something I saw in my future and, as a child, it seemed like it would just happen when the time came. Closer to my graduation now, I have established the career I wish to pursue and have chosen a college that will help guide me down that path. That college being the College of William and Mary, here in Virginia. I hadn’t considered the cost of tuition and all the things it entails but my mother obviously had. When the words, “I was thinking about going to WIlliam and Mary,” came out of my mouth, she literally paled.

Having attended the University of Virginia during the years 1981-1982, my mother was very much familiar with college costs. Though the expenses were significantly lower then than they are now, my mother still had to obtain student loans in order to attend. 35 years later, and she is still burdened with the weight of paying off what she borrowed due to the high amount of interest that raised her debts. While she wants the best for me, and supports the things I want (most of them), she is still hesitant about me attending William and Mary. She doesn’t want me to go through the same struggles she had when it comes to affording college. I can’t help but think, “Well, if it was so difficult for her to afford college then how am I ever going to be able to afford it with the way tuition costs are now?”

Looking at the cost of attendance and additional fees to the College of William and Mary, a college profile for William and Mary on collegedata.com states that it will cost a total of $71,982 to attend in-state. For those wishing to attend out-of-state the cost is even greater, at a price of $112,950. The cost for me to attend in-state left me feeling overwhelmed though it was nowhere near as astronomical as the cost to attend out-of-state. A bit outraged, I did some research and discovered that between the years 1971-1972 the total cost for someone to attend the College of William and Mary in-state was a laughable amount of $1,590 and the total cost for someone to attend out-of-state was $2,524.

Then, of course, came the question as to why college costs so much. I discovered that many colleges are hiring an unnecessary amount of administrators and part-time professors for their staffs. Between the years 1978-2014, administrative positions increased by 369 percent. Not only that, but the wages they are paying these administrators and professors has disproportionately increased, especially between the years 2000-2010. The median salary for top administrators, at public universities, increased by 39% and for their presidents it increased by 75%. Full-time professors received a salary gain of almost 19%. Top administrators, at private universities and colleges, received a gain of 97%, presidential salaries rose by 171%. There was a 50% salary increase for full-time faculty at private schools.

An unnecessary amount of money is also being spent in the visual aspects of a college campus. They are wasting too much money on building dining halls, new additions, and other components that show-case their campus. They are essentially trying to make their college more expensive.

It is believed that this careless over-hiring, rising salaries, and outrageous spending is deriving from the true purpose of college. To provide those who attend with a quality education. Those of us looking to attend college don’t choose a college or university based on it’s size, appearance, or amenities. We choose a college because we are secure in believing that that college will provide us with a quality education, programs, and professors.

I don’t know of anyone else that could possibly change these issues besides the President of The United States. These high college costs, and the things that cause them, prevent my generation from growing intellectually. We strive to go to college for how it benefits us, yet we fear to attend for all it will cost us. The continuation of this fear not only constrains us now, but will ultimately constrain the intellectual development of the future generations of those who so proudly call themselves American citizens.


Kaitlyn D.