Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Pros and Cons of a New $10,000 Bachelor's Degree Proposal

By Sean Scarpiello

A new piece of legislature in California is attempting to bring a full bachelor’s degree to students at a cost of $10,000. At first, many students and education professional may scoff at the goal. Although it is a lofty goal, the Californian government may be able to pull off this feat. While there are a lot of obstacles to overcome, this program would act as a huge benefit for all students and their parents. So what exactly are the pros and cons of executing such a program?

First off, to successfully carry this program out, California plans on making the program an “all hands on deck” effort. For such a program to exist, this is a deeply needed aspect of the $10,000 bachelor’s degree. For example, California officials have proposed new legislation which will put more emphasis on Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school. The credits earned in these classes can later be transferred to college credits, depending on how well the individual performed on the AP test at the end of the semester. Furthermore, the law aims at putting more emphasis on community college coursework. This is also important as it allows students to gain many credits at relatively low costs. Public colleges will able be mandated to accept up to 60 credits that students have accumulated at community colleges. This allows students to gain more credits needed to get a bachelor’s degree at a lower cost per credit as compared to more expensive public college credits. Each of these parts of the legislature sound as if they can be successfully executed.

On the other hand, there are some parts of the proposal which have the best intentions; however they appear to be impractical. The first of these aspects is the idea that textbooks are included in the $10,000 bachelor’s degree budget. This is extremely optimistic-- to the point where this is impractical. Textbooks of all types, whether they are eBook, rented, or other options, remain very expensive. To provide textbooks for their classes, students can easily spend $3,000 of their $10,000 budget on textbooks and related materials alone. This definitely holds true when books are needed for subjects like math and science where a lot of research and testing goes into writing the book. Also, the $10,000 budget goal is also extremely hopeful. College professors are extremely well educated and must study for years in undergraduate and graduate institutions, so they expect to be paid much more to instruct students. While this $10,000 goal may possibly be met studying for four years at a community college, this budget will deplete quickly once students enter public colleges. Currently, even many high schools struggle to spend less than $10,000 on instruction for a high school student.

Despite the amount of cons within this new legislature, it is not too far of a stretch. While it is difficult to keep costs down, it is not impossible. One of the main a components of this program to guarantee its success would be to educate students in high numbers. The high schools that are able to keep their instructional spending below $10,000 a student are ones that are educating students in bulk. This allows the schools to spend more money overall, but less per individual student. Another way to fix this problem would be to raise the $10,000 budget a bit. $10,000 can be used up quickly in education, so bumping up the goal budget to $15,000, or even $12,500, would act as a great way to keep the budget low while remaining a bit more realistic. Either way, I am a fan of this new program because regardless if it meets its ultimate goal, we can expect to see a huge cut in the amount of money being spent on a bachelor’s degree.

In all, while this program sounds great on paper and has high expectations, it is still attainable. There are several pros and cons to the new piece of legislature in California. If law makers and education professionals can attack these problems in the correct ways, we can definitely see a huge change in the amount being paid for a bachelor’s degree. In the very least, we can hope to see the rising level of college tuition begin to drop and become more reasonable for students.

1 comment:

Alisandra Wederich said...

I had a college professor who solved the textbook cost problem easily. It was for Intro. to Humanities; a course centered on looking at literature over the ages and what this literature says about humanity as a whole. Because the material covered a lot of classic literature, we were able to find websites that had full versions of such things as "The Epic of Gilgamesh," poetry by Robert Frost and William Shakespeare, and other shorter stories all FREE online.

For material that could not be found online,t he professor had gone through several literary texts beforehand and assembled her favorite chapters and excerpts from these texts into her own mini textbook. She paid royalties to the other textbook companies, but because the portion of material she used was so small compared to the whole textbook, she ended up being able to successfully sell her appended mini texts for something like $40 (which is not bad at all for a college text!) If more professors did that instead of having students buy multiple texts that they only intended to use parts of anyway, students could probably save a LOT of money on textbook spending.