Raising tuition won’t help

Dear school board: Please don’t raise our tuition. I’m only a freshman and I know, in four years, I’ll be up to my ass in debt—at least $50,000. Sadly, that’s not even that much when talking college tuition and fees. Luckily, I have no desire to be a doctor, lawyer or something that requires even more schooling.

Let me give you some background on my opinion about higher education and why tuition shouldn’t be so high. Society holds standards for all of us to have at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a field that isn’t art-related. If you don’t have at least a bachelor’s, you might as well settle for a humble $9.25 to $14 (if you’re lucky) an hour for the rest of your life.

Since I was little, I was told that I had to go to college. There was no decision-making on my part; I was told by family, friends, teachers and the media that not going to college meant I wouldn’t accomplish anything in life. That I would be a failure and wouldn’t be able to climb the ladder in my chosen career. Times have changed and you can’t be a college dropout like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs and still be successful (or at least that’s what we’re told).

There is so much that’s incredibly wrong with this way of thinking. Education does not equal intelligence, and uneducated people are not necessarily unintelligent. Personally, the most intelligent and influential people I’ve encountered barely graduated high school, but their passion and inherent intelligence made them successful. But that was a different time. The education system prepares us to take exams and write essays. It doesn’t teach us basic life skills like changing a flat tire or filing taxes. This is something that needs to change. School is supposed to prepare us for life, not more schooling.

While these standards likely won’t be changing anytime soon, there has been movement in the direction of making tuition cheaper or even free to students at public universities and colleges. Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed that we do this nationwide, with a bill called the College for All Act. If passed, legislation would provide $47 billion each year toward funding students, which would fund 67 percent of tuition. Each state would then have to come up with the remaining 33 percent. This would allow universities and colleges to use funding to increase opportunities for students and to improve schools. This funding would only go to undergraduate students. If everyone could afford college, then we’d actually be able to meet society’s standards. Plus, who knows how many incredibly intelligent people who could’ve changed the world didn’t get a chance to because college was such a financial burden.

Raising tuition has been a constant debate for years. We all know $100,000 is a lot of money, and most of us don’t have that laying around. The cost of college tuition has caused many students to not attend, to be overworked while attending and to protest. In spring of 2015, Portland State proposed raising the tuition to over $8,000 a year. In response, many PSU students protested. They raised signs saying, “I am not an ATM” and chanted, “Education is our mission; stop raising our tuition.” This idea is one we can all get behind. If tuition keeps increasing, do the government and school board really think we’re going to continue attending? I know my education will be in jeopardy if I face possible future tuition increases.