by Jess Coleman
You're buying a car. You come across a stunning, brand-new Mercedes for $50,000. Next to it is a worn-out, used Jeep with 50,000 miles on it, for six times the price, or $300,000.
The choice is obvious, and it rests on a simple, driving principle that defines the free market: Price ought to be aligned with quality. But when it comes to higher education, that seemingly straightforward notion is thrown out the window. No one in their right mind would ever pay more for a car of lesser quality, and the same should hold true for a university.
Take my situation. I was admitted to both Brandeis University and Binghamton University. Graduates at Binghamton, on average, have starting salaries roughly 10 percent greater than their counterparts at Brandeis. Nevertheless, tuition at Brandeis is over six times the price at Binghamton.
Forgive my narrow-minded assumption that the sole purpose of attending college is to earn the greatest possible salary. There is no doubt that a college experience certainly has more to offer. But my guess is, if it were no longer the case that a college education lead to such profound economic benefits, most would stop attending.
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