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Editorial

College demands higher than ever

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October 11, 2007

Higher education, like everything else in life, is a constantly evolving beast. Costs are continually rising and expectations in the classroom are greater than ever before. But these two opposite forces pose a real threat to the sanity of every student at UW-River Falls and around the country.

According to finaid.org, a smart student guide to financial aid, college costs are increasing at a rate of 5-8 percent annually, which is nearly double the increase in the inflation rate. If Wisconsin’s State Budget isn’t resolved soon, UWRF and the other Wisconsin universities will likely see a spike in that number as well. This constant rise in costs forces many students to work outside the classroom.

According to a 2000 study by Sebago Associates, 57 percent of college students had a job outside of school. While this study was done seven years ago, there is no doubt that, with cost of higher education and living both rising, even more college students are in the work force than when this study was done seven years ago. This means that not only do students have less time for schoolwork, but less time to unwind and refresh their batteries.

Another factor that plays heavily into is the fact that faculty are, justifiably, demanding more and more from this generation of students. It is their job to do so because of a highly competitive work world waiting for college students. Faculty members feel the need to push us more to prepare us for the ‘real world.’ While some slackers may just want a degree handed to them at the end of their days in college, what real value would a college degree hold if professors decided not to push their students with a heavy workload?

So here we are, students and faculty, stuck between a lack of time and a lack of money, with no relief in sight. Eventually some thing has to give and many times it is the student. According to higheredinfo.org, the national retention rate for students from their freshman to sophomore years was just below 74 percent in 2002, a half percent decrease from the previous year. At UWRF the numbers were very similar. The decrease isn’t the real issue, it is the fact that more than one-quarter of students at UWRF and nationwide, are leaving school after on year or less. While this may not be fully attributed to rising costs, we would be naïve to believe that it’s not a factor.

It would be nice if there were some simple solution to all of this, like decreasing tuition, or the workload given by professors, but those options are either unrealistic, for the former, or counter productive, for the later. In the long run, all that will happen is we will weed out those who just can’t hack it in college and create a workforce of broke, sleep deprived, stressed out, workaholics.