The film Ivory Tower, directed by Rossi,shows many serious contemporary problems.l think the most important problem is:”Is college worth it?” And a lot of new problems are derived under this main problem.
At the very beginning,the problem of tuition and debt appears.The film mentioned about Harvard University,the origin of almost all higher education in America nowadays,was imitated by many other universities,which lead to competition between these universities.The result is that they are not what they are suppose to be, and thus tuition is getting higher and higher;moreover,decreases of funding also impact on the increasing of tuition.Many students who can’t afford their tuition but want to get higher education have to apply for Student Loan Debt. According to one statistic in the film,the number of tuition had increased more than any other food or service since 1978.(increased 1120% from 1978-2010) And we know Student Loan Debt has reached $1 trillion in America.
At the same time,many students still can’t find a job after graduating. It’s a very bad news,especially for who has a loan. Stefanie Gary,a girl with master degree of Hunter College,can’t even find a job cleaning toilets at a local hotel.What she could do to pay her $140,000 debt?It just destroyed her dreams.
At the opposite,many people from wealthy families only choose colleges for social life.They don’t need to worry about tuition,however,they don’t pay attention on studying but put emphasis on entertainment, or parties.
These examples form a strong contrast,which reminds me of one article” The Tyranny of Meritocracy “written by Lani Guinier.She worried about the testocracy in America nowadays.Students with a better background have more chances entering colleges than those families are poor,because they have more resources and preparations.David Boone’s example is just an exception in the film. Although he comes from a poor family,he struggled for himself and his family,instead of going astray. Finally, he entered Harvard, and he doesn’t to worry about tuition,since “Harvard is a colleges among the 1.25% of colleges that proviede ‘full-need’ financial aid,allowing David attend for free.” Not everyone can enter Harvard or top colleges and pay no tuition,indeed,only a few students in the United States can do this.And most of them come from”Elite education”, an area,we,as normal people,can’t reach.
You may ask,”But you can go to colleges which charges no tuition.” And the film did mention two examples:Deep Spring College and Cooper Union.
Students in Deep Spring College learn self-governance and respect others.It’s like a tiny society with democratic.The important thing is they can communicate with other,ask questions, and make decisions,an idea which Drew Faust, the president of Harvard sustains.According to her,”The aim is giving students the ability of thinking and reasoning and questioning for a lifetime.”
Different from Deep Spring College, Cooper Union faces tremendous deficit and the number is increasing every year. The severe reality made president Jamshed Bharucha has to make the decision of charging tuition from 2014.The decision leads to students’ protest,because Cooper Union has been free for 150 years and they think no tuition in this college is a wind vane to the country to show its educational idea.Charging will only ruin it and lead to adding tuition of other colleges.In spite of students occuping present’s office for 65 days and graduates turned their faces back to the president Bharucha in graduation ceremony,they failed to affect the decision of second vote of the college,that is, Charging tuition.
The protest really impressed me.Students fight for the educational idea of free education.l respect that,but it’s also true Cooper Union is facing enormous deficit.”Nothing is free.”The sentence in the film hit me.l can’t beat back and it seems no answer to decide which side is wrong and which is right.
Except problems above, another problem is that if you are not going to college,how can you learn if you want to.In Ivory Tower, there are three main ways to this problem:Start business–Every one among 24 students will get $100,000,founded by Dale Stephens,if they drop of college;Self-education–Online education,like MOOC,and it’s free.But the result of cooperation between San Jose State and MOOC is not good,as you can see in the film;“Education Hackerhouse”. People gather and learn living skills,similar with students in Deep Spring College:they can learn from each other. The difference is these people don’t think it’s worth to go to college.Successful entrepreneurs,like Bill Gates is an example of being successful without finishing college. But l also want to say, successful entrepreneurs are also exceptions.You can’t copy their success.
In my opinion,l can’t assert which way is right or wrong. Different people have different access to success.To most people,getting higher education is the only way to success.You can choose go to college if your family can pay for tuition,or you don’t need to pay tuition because of financial aid, or you can learn by yourself,as long as you are willing to learn.But to those can’t pay tuition and no funding,Student Loan seems the only solution.So l think it’s a prior problem to be solved.
1.Do you think it’s worth to go to college?
2.What’s your opinion of increasing tuition and competition between colleges nowadays?