WSJ: You Can’t Work Your Way Through College Anymore

Don Ryan/AP Photo

A column published in the Wall Street Journal this week highlighted the reality that college students can no longer pay their tuition with a part-time job.

The column’s author, Dean Emeritus of New York University’s Stern School of Business Richard R. West, recalls that he helped pay for his degree at Yale University in the 1950s by waiting tables at a student cafeteria for 10 hours a week. Then, Yale University cost $1,800 a year, including tuition, room, and board.

In 1956, as a freshman at Yale, I waited tables in a student dorm for about $1 an hour, 10 hours a week, over the 30-week academic year. I received a full scholarship, but even if it had ended, I recall that Yale’s “all in” price—including tuition, room and board—was $1,800 a year. My work during the term could have covered one-sixth of that.

Now, a degree from Yale will set students back an approximate total of $66,900. West was able to pay for a sixth of his degree with his cafeteria job in 1956. Now, a student with a similar job at Yale would only be able to cover a minuscule five percent of his or her total education cost.

College has become increasingly costly for American families. Additionally, a recent report revealed that companies forced to fill in the gaps where colleges have failed. AT&T is spending more than $1 billion to train their employees on how to perform various tasks at the evolving telecommunications company.

All signs point to a necessary evolution in higher education. With increasing costs and diminishing outcomes, students will begin to look for alternative options to the expensive four-year residential route that has left so many drowning in debt and struggling to find work.



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