The Renewanation Review Volume 8 Issue 1 - Page 20

The Tragedy of American Higher Education What every parent and student needs to know I magine wide, manicured lawns, lofty brick building, and doors bearing nameplates inscribed with authoritative credentials. When tour groups walk through my college campus, this is what they see. Indeed, such an inspiring environment prompts well-meaning parents to smile in anticipation and makes incoming students scan the campus in a mixture of wide-eyed terror and excitement. Although parents send their children and students come to college with well-intentioned hopes of a bright future, my experiences as both a college student and college-level instructor have shown me that such elevated expectations are usually naïve and misguided.   When I first entered the beautiful campus of the public university located in conservative southwestern Virginia, the autumn trees had begun to usher in their glorious fall colors, and like them, I had readied myself for my own personal metamorphosis: I had entered graduate school to pursue a Master’s Degree in English. In addition to working on my degree, I had also earned a valuable teaching assistantship that came with a sizeable scholarship and stipend. What an amazing opportunity to earn a degree and pursue my passion for teaching! Sadly, however, after nearly two years in that environment, what most impresses me about my college experience is not the beauty of the campus, the intellectual exercise it requires, or the joy of introducing young minds to the pleasures of learning. Instead, I’m struck by the way the school’s carefully-crafted exterior contrasts with the dark, hidden truth of America’s higher education system. My personal experiences during this time and seeing the 20 inner workings of the university have opened my eyes to some terrible problems within our public university system that every parent and student should know.   Anyone wanting to understand the systemic flaws within our college system first needs to learn this: more than anything else, most schools are interested in their financial bottom line. Financial concerns take preeminence over everything else. Student