Are You Too Far Above Me To Hear

Ivory Tower starts with a professor’s first steps back onto campus, but these steps aren’t entirely joyful. The narrator’s melancholy is caused by the fact that, if all people who stepped onto their campus for the start of classes became a little less happy, then the students are better off because every year there are new students who remain the same age, while the professor grow one year older.The narrator concludes his introduction by saying that college is, “a way to preserve cultural memory”. the scene intensifies with news clips flashing by as reporters posit, “is college worth it”, state that, “college is a myth”. one of the reporter connects the foreclosure situation to student loans that can only end in defaulting on payments.

The filmmakers highlight the problem with higher education’s cost. The filmmakers seem to be antagonized student debt. One student presented in the film has $140,000 worth of debt. Some students do receive financial aid, the student presented was David who attended Harvard with a scholarship, but not everyone is so lucky. The video states that, “Harvard is among the 1.25% of colleges that provide “full-need” financial aid”, which is substantial considering that over time the State Pell Grant used to be enough to pay for a years tuition at a public college, but now it only covers a fraction of the cost. The problem isn’t entirely school’s fault, considering that the Reagan administration stopped expanding support for higher education. Reagan ran for president with a promise to disassemble the Department of Education. The Reagan administration justified reduced support for higher education because an elevated education benefited the individual, so the individual should finance their own growth.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art received a lot of attention in Ivory Tower. It is a school that offered free tuition to all students. The schools needed a new president, and with new leadership, the idea of charging tuition came up. The students of Cooper Union were outraged and protested tuition, but they seemed to have been set aside. After being ignored, they organized a a new protest located in the school president’s office, a sit in. The empty office was guarded by a single secretary and the group of dozens of students found their way in. The students were told by the Cooper Union’s staff that they were trespassing, and that disciplinary action would be taken on all students involved. The school then called the police but the students stood their ground, and the police stood down and allowed the sit-in to continue. On the 22nd day, which was graduation for the senior class, the students turned their backs to the school’s staff expressing their contempt. The sit-in continued days into the summer when the protesting students reached an agreement with the board of directors. Unfortunately, the board of directors voted for tuition to be introduced.

The underwhelming results from the online courses was unexpected. The Udacity passing rates for the math classes were undesirable when 50.5% of 213 students pass elementary statistics, and about three quarters of student from college algebra and entry level math failed. The students could really benefit from the technological aspects of classes, but not all students can get by learning from a computer. One of the students at Harvard says that there is no replacement for the human contact that helps with the learning process. Community colleges would become test field for hybrid classes where the teachers can give students online lectures from Harvard professors at home and then when the students return to class they can work on and problems. The flipped classroom in which students present their information to the rest of the class allow the teacher to go to students individually.

1. Was Ivory Tower an appropriate title? If so, who is on the top of the tower?

2.How practical would free tuition for all be? How long can you really benefit from it?

6 thoughts on “Are You Too Far Above Me To Hear”

  1. I think that college does not have to be free. I see higher education as an investment. I decided to come back to college to escalate positions in my current job and to have a better salary. If the degree will give me all the tools to have a better pay, why does it have to be free? I agree that low income students should get some sort of assistance, but college does not necessarily needs to be free.

  2. Hey Kevin, thanks for your blog. I think that what you pointed out about the test hybrid classes that community colleges are beginning to offer is an important one. This method of teaching allows the students to learn the material at their own pace yet at the same time, or rather a little later in time – during class – relate to their professors and peers regarding what’s being learned. As you mentioned, human interaction and correspondence is irreplaceable. Although learning straight from online sources may be a viable option for those who are able to pick up and retain information easily, for the vast majority of students a certain element of give-and-take I’d necessary to learn properly. This idea of hybrid classes blends the democratic style of hackerhouses in silicon valley and of Deep Spring College’s “live and learn” focus. On the one hand, it is up to the students to leatn the material but they also can rest assured knowing that there is someone to talk to and discuss problems that are encountered. Promoting such classes most likely would save students a bundle of money as well for they wouldn’t be pressured into attending a college and living a campus life, racking up more and more debt as the months and years go on.

  3. Hey Kevin, great blog. You did a nice job creating a synopsis of the video and providing thought provoking questions. In response to your second question, I partially agree with Celina. College is definitely an investment, you are giving your hard earned money to a college with the expectation that you will get the best possible education you can from them in order to better yourself. However, not everyone can pay for college, and many people go into debt because they could not pay for college but they still went, an example being the student who was in $140,000s of debt. I think that those who cannot afford to go to college but still want to go to college should indeed receive assistance, but they would have to prove that they have the ambition/want to improve. For example, if a student who lives in a low income household wanted to go to a college, they had decent grades in high school, but they missed a lot of school days. The college could then have that student come in for an interview, ask about their home life, their background, their aspirations and thoughts. They would then use this information to decide if the student has potential, if they believe their college can help improve this person and brighten their life. That person, if excepted, would then go to the college for free or with a special scholarship. Thus, the college is also investing in its students and it’s not just the paying students investing in the college, allowing more people to benefit from college.

  4. Hi Kevin. Very interesting and insightful blog. Tuition is one of the highest talked about issues in our society. I agree that college is an investment for your future. Students should know what they are getting themselves into when going to a certain college or university. Your career should be worth all the schooling and preparation needed to achieve it. Its about knowing whether or not if school will pay off for your future. School shouldn’t be a waste of time.

  5. Hey Kevin nice blog! I thought that you did a fantastic job of covering the information that Ivory Tower delivered. To add on to what Eryka and Celina discussed I believe that part of the issue with the Cooper Union changing their tuition from free to paid wasn’t the fact that the students would have to pay for college. But the fact that they were promised a free education when they started at the school and during their enrollment it was changed to a paid education.

  6. You made a very thought provoking post, one which poses a great question that is on nearly every students mind currently- how can free tuition be sustainable and feasible. The question has a mountain of answers, and I feel that it all trickles down to the inherent privatization of every industry in our nation. I never agreed with the idea of private university because it is implying that education is a business, when the purpose of education is to provide information and experience to improve the lives of the next generation. Private universities have unrealistic tuitions and continue to rise out of proportion. It remains a mystery to me why any student would make a decision to place themselves in a world of debt from the beginning in order to receive a degree which doesn’t even ensure a career in their field of study after our years of hard work. The woman who studied at Hunter couldn’t even “find a job cleaning toilets” and yet had a lifetime of student debt ahead of her. State universities and city universities are the gold standard in affordable education. Students are able to receive quality education from qualified educators for a price which does not pose a death sentence. As for free education, it can certainly be done, and it was done years ago when all city universities charged zero dollars for tuition. This “free education” however, can only and should only be implemented in state schools where maximizing profits is not the first priority. If a student chooses to study at a private university, they should understand the risks associated with it. My oldest brother received a degree in neuroscience and speech pathology over the course of 9 semesters for a whopping total of $24,000 from Brooklyn College, where his friends have debts which are nearly ten times as much as what he spent.

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