Colleges should focus on learning

At a time when colleges and universities are spending a disproportionate amount of money on student amenities, it’s heartening to know that Occidental College is charting a different course (“When Admissions Adviser Rick Singer Called, This School Said, ‘No Thanks,’ “ The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7).  Rather than chase affluent applicants, it decided to put its money into scholarships for low-income minorities.

But It has paid a steep price for its decision, losing roughly $70 million in its endowment. That’s because it has rejected wealthy students with questionable academic track records in favor of admitting low-income qualified students who are not as likely to support the school financially after graduation.

I’ve never understood why lavish amenities are needed on campus in the first place.  Students are supposed to go to college for an education.  That has nothing to do with climbing walls etc.  Let’s focus instead on academic learning, which is really the No. 1 reason colleges and universities exist.

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2 Replies to “Colleges should focus on learning”

  1. Neither scholarships for low-income minorities nor climbing walls directly improve academic instruction at a college — unless the college is limiting the scholarships to low-income minorities who would have been admitted based on their academic records w/o any affirmative action preference, admitting the low-income minorities might actually disadvantage academic instruction.

    Colleges must cover their expenses via tuition, endowment, and grants (govt and private). It’s unrealistic to expect colleges (except perhaps the richest like Harvard) to in effect make large charitable contributions to address the societal problem of low-income minorities being unable to obtain a college education. The govt (and perhaps private charities to some extent) should pay the college costs of the low-income minorities. We do not expect Safeway (or other national supermarket chains) to charge low-income shoppers less for the food they buy; instead, society via the govt helps low-income shoppers buy food via food stamps. The same should apply to colleges.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: The funds for the amenities now offered at so many colleges could better be used for scholarships for disadvantaged students. I fail to understand why these amenities are necessary. They did not exist decades ago. Some studies show that students devote far fewer hours today to studying than their did in the past. I wonder if the existence of climbing walls etc. is not partly to blame.,

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