The associated press is reporting that there is a new movement afoot in private universities and colleges. They are providing financial aid to “needy” students to take a year off between high school and college, so they can take a “gap” year to travel and experience the world, apparently like many of their more wealthy applicants are able to do.
Are you kidding me? In a world, where higher education costs have increased more than 1,120% in thirty years, where college is increasingly out of the reach of many Americans, selective universities are PAYING students to go travel the world? I have a better idea — MAKE EVERY student who enrolls at Princeton take a year working a crap minimum wage job BEFORE starting college. Don’t PAY them to do it – make them live on that wage, and then let them enter the university. That might not let students travel the world, but it will give them a taste of what life is like for many Americans.
In the AP Story they report that this new trend extends beyond Princeton and Tufts, even smaller private colleges like St. Norbert’s College in Wisconsin are doing this. I went to a college very similar to St. Norbert. A college that cost $10,000 per year in 1986 (still a LOT of money); today cost more than $48,000 a year. One year there today equals the total cost of a four year education in the late 1980s. Is there four times the value of the education today?
I guess I am not surprised that these elite institutions are offering such perks. But the fact that these institutions take federal monies in many ways, really irks me to no end. Given the crisis we face in the world of public higher education funding, how on earth anyone can justify providing funding to allow students to “take a gap year” and “explore the world” is beyond me. Let them work at minimum wage, and experience “the world.” Fries with that?