This month my wife Melanie, and I have been driving her grandson and his girlfriend to Saint Mary's College, my Alma Mater, on college visits. Both kids were duly impressed, and why not? Saint Mary's provides one of the best all around, personal, community oriented educations in the country...Suffice it to say that after the presentations ended, my wife was ready to enroll, and I was ready to re-enroll, although I doubt they would see fit to offer me a scholarship the way they did in 1957.
The one downer of these visitations was discovering what the cost of attending a private college is today. I haven't thought about tuition since my kids were looking at colleges back in the eighties. It was high then, but nothing like it is today. Saint Mary's charges a whopping $58,000 per year tuition, room and board. If a student did not receive a dime of financial aid that amounts to $232,000 over 4 years. You could buy many of the condos in our area for that price. Saint Mary's College is not alone--all private colleges around the country charge similar prices.
For example Santa Clara, another private Catholic University costs $59, 589 per year. UCLA, a public university, costs $32,415; Chico State University costs $24,604 which = $98,416 at the end of 4 years. (We're talking a state university system school here, folks.) And just to be sure you don't think you can leave the state and get a break, out-of-state tuition room and board at the University of Mississippi will cost a student from California $27,294 per year or $199,176 after 4 years. Of course, you might believe living in Oxford, the same town in which William Faulkner lived and wrote, is worth the bucks.
What are all these facts about? Between thinking about the outrageous cost of higher education in this country and the ongoing controversy over whether scholarship athletes should be paid for their efforts on the fields of sports, I am reassessing my previous position. I was pro.
Now, I'm not so sure. I'm finding myself less impressed by the argument that scholarship athletes are being exploited because the universities are racking in the millions off the efforts of their athletes. I find myself thinking more about the middle class parents in our country who are just wealthy enough that their kids don't qualify for financial aid and don't have the money to pay the exorbitant cost of today's tuition, room and board (Imagine those parents having more than one kid of college age). It seems to me that the athletes need to be more appreciative of what they're getting in return for their services: Play a sport you love and get paid a free education. Sounds reasonable to me, considering starting annual salaries for teachers in any state fall below what it costs to go to Stanford for one semester.
My daughter and her husband fall into this middle class category. When I told her the costs of a private university education for a year, she said, that even if they could somehow afford it, she would not send her child to such a school as a matter of principal. There is no way I can disagree with her. And if things keep going the way they are, public higher education will soon also be out of the reach of most Americans.
Addendum: Stipends for scholarship athletes should increase because studying and practicing make it nearly impossible to hold down a job. I'm talking about ALL student athletes, not only Football, Basketball, and Baseball players.
I don't blog much about baseball, but it is World Series time, so here's a terrific poem by Halvard Johnson
The Extra -Inning Ballgame
Wanting things to go on forever,
yet craving the apocalypse.
Reading the last few pages at one word a minute.
Wanting to teeter forever at the brink of the abyss,
and loving every minute of it.
The solid single lashed over second.
A shortstop's arm, just long enough to catch it.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.