According to the Wall Street Journal, the rising cost of a college education and the impact of the recession is causing even wealthy, affluent students to consider state and local schools over their more prestigious and expensive competition.
Mr. Schwartz, 18 years old, was accepted at Cornell University but enrolled instead at City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College, which is free.Mr. Schwartz says his family could have afforded Cornell’s tuition, with help from scholarships and loans. But he wants to be a doctor and thinks medical school, which could easily cost upward of $45,000 a year for a private institution, is a more important investment. It wasn’t “worth it to spend $50,000-plus a year for a bachelor’s degree,” he says.More students are choosing lower-cost public colleges or commuting to schools from home to save on housing expenses. Twenty-two percent of students from families with annual household incomes above $100,000 attended public, two-year schools in the 2010-2011 academic year, up from 12% the previous year, according to a report from student-loan company Sallie Mae. […]“I thought that the Ivy League title would really, really boost my chances of getting into a good med school,” Mr. Schwartz says. Now, he is aiming for top grades at Macaulay to remain competitive with Ivy League candidates.
It is good to see people finally coming around to this point — in college, what you study is more important than where you study it. Top-tier schools like Harvard and Yale provide great opportunities, but they can be prohibitively expensive for many families, and there is no guarantee that graduates from a more prestigious school are smarter or more hard-working than those who chose a cheaper alternative.More work needs to be done to ensure that students from less-known schools are able to compete with their name-school peers. A national baccalaureate test, which would make passage of a standardized test a prerequisite for a college degree, would be a good start, allowing students from lesser-known schools to compete based on mastery of their subject. Knowledge base, experience, and work ethic are the most important lessons of a college education, and these can be acquired anywhere. We should work harder to make sure opportunity is equally available. Kids who can’t afford “name brand” schools should not be penalized in the quest for good jobs.In fairness to individuals, to promote social mobility, and to make it easier for true talent and accomplishment to be rewarded and put to use, government should be working to undercut the ‘snobbery premium’ for expensive colleges. Offering good students from less expensive, less well known institutions and opportunity to demonstrate their accomplishments in head to head competition with the Ivies is simple justice and sound national policy.National baccalaureate exams — comprehensive exams based on different fields of study — would give every student the chance to be evaluated on his or her own merits, not on the reputation of a school. Establishing such exams and mandating its use by federal agencies would make this a fairer country and prepare the way for the sweeping educational reforms that are still to come.