Opinion: College is a business

Screenshot from sc.edu

The current national student debt in America collectively sums up to an astounding $1.5 trillion, according to a report issued by the Federal Reserve

The average student will owe over $30,000 after graduating from a four-year program. Over the years these numbers have grown tremendously, and they will continue to increase in the coming years as institutes for higher education transition more and more into thinly-veiled big businesses. 

These numbers are beyond ridiculous, and there is no valid reason why an adequate education should cost so much. This debt greatly affects our future before it really even starts. 

Universities make a fortune off their students each year. At many institutions, the president makes well over seven figures while students continually plummet further into debt that will more than likely take decades to pay off. 

A common analogy is that the president is the CEO and students are the consumers. Many universities are in competition with each other to gain more students (“consumers”) and in turn the cost of school is steadily rising. This dynamic is burdening the college experience for students and lessening the value of degrees once we graduate. 

At USC in particular, I believe there are several problems that are a direct result of this capitalistic model. 

One problem is the overpopulation of students on campus. Because of the school’s need for more consumers to bring in more revenue, there are an abundance of students on campus. The university recently admitted one of its largest freshman classes ever, and as a result, 16 freshman students were forced to stay in off-campus hotels because of the lack of available residence halls. It is clear that the school is prioritizing funds over the well-being of its students.

Another issue is the shortage of student parking on campus. Last week, it took me 30 minutes to find a place to park when I got on campus. I usually don’t even drive, but I was running a little late and decided that I would save some time by driving instead of waiting an extra 45 minutes for my apartment’s shuttle. I ended up still being 10 minutes late to class after I finally found a parking spot at a meter about a quarter of a mile away from the academic building I was supposed to be in. 

The lack of accessible parking at USC is a huge problem. During prime school hours, it’s nearly impossible to find a park in hourly garages like Pendleton and Bull (especially after Bull’s recent implementation of card payment), and paying for a lot parking pass is unnecessarily expensive for students on a tight budget. Even if students do pay for a pass, those lots and garages are often still unreliable and overpopulated. 

In my opinion, students should not be forced to pay for a pass to park on a campus to which we already pay tens of thousands of dollars a year.

As the cost of tuition increases as universities continue to rake in even more money from the free labor of their athletes, colleges are becoming more like businesses instead of their intended purpose as providers of education. The prioritization of funds over the academic experience of students is becoming clear as day. Many students are viewing college as an investment rather than a guaranteed route for success because of its high cost. 

As long as administrators continue to sacrifice the basic needs of their students in favor of making a profit, we will continue to feel more like consumers at a corporation rather than students at a school.

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