Himika Akram reporter
After coming to the USA, I have noticed most of the students complain about the cost of tuition they have to pay to earn a degree and almost all of them wants free education. But wait, do you think students who complain about college education not being free, all of them are serious about their education; or all of them are genuine in their willingness to learn? The answer is, no.
When I am in the class, either as a student or a Graduate Teaching Assistant, I have noticed many students either scroll through their mobile phone screen, laughing, side-talking, giggling, flunking class after class, skipping assignment after assignment, even exams and then at the end when they are the ones who cry about paid tuition, does it sound logical at all? When students are showing this lack of seriousness in their academic performances, classroom behavior, and attendance when the money for it is coming out of their own pockets, what makes them think free education will change all of it overnight?
I have talked to some of the students who personally think, since they have to pay for their educaiton, they have to work. And those jobs take away from their time they could have spent on education. This concern does not sound genuine to me, because decades after decades it has been the culture in the USA, once the kids complete their 12th grade education, they start working. As a person coming from a different country, I have lots of respect about this particular aspect of the US culture.
Most of them want to be self-dependent, taking responsibilities of their own and start living independently. Even though education is free, still they would want to work to pay for their living expenses, which is usually much higher than the education itself. Hence it is not clear to me, why the students blame it on the education only? Even though education is free, ultimately, they would work anyway.
Secondly, almost every university in the USA has ample financial assistance for the students in the forms of grants, scholarships, assistantships and so on. The students who have a genuine concern about their cost of education, they might avail them after proving their merit. The student who puts lots of hard work to earn a degree; and the student who treats education and classroom like a joke; is it fair to give the same level of financial assistance to both of them? You want it, you have to earn it.
Finally, If college education is free, not only students will not take education seriously, it will also devalue the quality of education. When education is paid, colleges and universities will keep pushing the envelop for new innovations, higher creativity, richer curriculum. But when it would be a public takeover, it will increase much higher enrollment, classrooms would be overcrowded, cost that the universities spending on per student would drop and so would the quality of education. Most importantly, when the number of degree holders will increase to such a dramatic level, that would cause higher crisis in the job market with unrealistic qualification criteria. Those who can afford to pay for their tuition, they would move to the private universities, and then the dichotomy between the quality of education in public vs private universities will deepen more.
Rather, my personal opinion is, instead of whining about free tuition, students need to focus on the cost they are spending on housing, food and the public transportation to make a positive impact. Finally, don’t; forget this entire piece of opinion has come from an international student, who has to pay double the amount any US student has to pay on a degree in case there is no assistantship. Still, I very much oppose the idea of a free college education. Because nothing good comes for free.