User login


You are here

Price tag for a college education: $43,980 per year

Zhigang Suo's picture

An article in New York Times today reported that Princeton will not raise tuition in the coming year. Then it said that the total annual price for an undergraduate with a full-meal contract is $43,980. Over dim sum yesterday, my wife and I were wondering if a university eduction is over-priced, especially when you consider that you can learn anything online, either at a small price or no cost at all. If you'd like to have hands-on experience, then find a job on the side. If you have a soft spot for things like moral reasoning or philosophy or eighteenth-century literature, then download the great books from Google Books. If you'd like to have peer experience, then join a discussion group, online or offline. OK, a university will give you a certificate that may lead you to a good job. And a university seems like a daycare beyond high school, or a sheltered environment for young people to interact with one another.

How long can our leading universities carry on by dispensing certificates and daycares and knowledge that is freely available for anybody who cares to learn? Will there be a cheaper solution to what we want for our children? What do we really want any way?

I have no expertise to judge the value of a college education. More knowledgeable people have asked the above questions in more interesting ways. Here is a collection of essays on general education in harvard college written by colleagues at Harvard concerning general education. Be sure to read the particularly perceptive essay written by Whitesides. I'd be curious to learn your opinion on the value of college education, and how we can make it more valuable for our children.


I look forward to reading the posted essays, but let me simply add a quick comment that without paid tuition, given the priority list of (U.S.) governmental allocations, professors will need to depend even more on NSF grants!  And goodness knows what would happen to those faculty members in the "softer" disciplines.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Price tag perhaps is just a small part of the issues with our universities.  You might want to read this book, Excellence without a Soul, by Harry R. Lewis, a former Dean of Harvard College.  If the title does not give you some ideas of the content of the book, a list of reviews on his web site will.  I've gone through the book once, and will go over once more.  It is too complex a book for me to sum it up here.  

Dear Zhigang,

The link guiding to the essays regarding general education is not working. I am interested in reading the essays, Can you please provide the updated link.



Atul Jain

Zhigang Suo's picture

Perhpas it is more reliable to give the full title to the collection:  essays on general education in harvard college.  This link connects to the Google search of the title. 

Some of the essays are very stimulating, thank you for the link!



Subscribe to Comments for "Price tag for a college education:  $43,980 per year"

Recent comments

More comments


Subscribe to Syndicate