As the presidential candidates are solidified and the debates steadily approach, the need for a revision in the American education system has become a pressing matter for discussion. As few candidates are left, many eyes have been raised to the high cost of education in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education has stated that the cost of a 4-year university soars well above inflation rates. Although students are paying more for their degree, universities have reported to be spending less money per student. So how are universities even spending all of this money?
Although many might think that the cost raise is due to the price of tuition itself, the National Center for Education Statistics published that over 60% of the total expenses at private for-profit institutions like Grand Canyon University go towards student services. These student services account for amenities like free tutoring, concerts, and the many events that happen on campus. Marketing also takes up a big portion of the budget, as we all know by the television commercials, outdoor billboards scattered around town, and the programs like Discover GCU that serve to draw the attention of high school students to the university. As students are being treated more like customers buying an experience, the number of non-teaching employees have increased as opposed to academic instruction, which accounts for only 27% of expenditure.
As cost rise, high school students contemplate if college is even worth it and the never-ending amount of loans scare college students into thinking about dropping out. All the same, undergraduate enrollment has doubled at most universities. Grand Canyon has more than quadrupled in student body size, causing our well-known explosion of construction around campus. After all, if the cost is so high that students contemplate skipping college altogether, why is there so much more people in attendance? That is because after careful consideration, college is still worth the time and money. Completing higher education is an investment that pays for itself long-term.
In 2015, only 5% of people who had completed their bachelor’s degree were unemployed, whereas the employment rate for those with a higher education was about 27% higher in comparison to high school graduates who did not attend any college. That is, businesses reported that applicants with college degrees are preferred over those without a degree. It goes without saying that in college you learn many skills that are necessary for the workplace, such as social interaction and proper communication. Most people consider college the best experience of their life precisely due to the social interaction that takes place and leads to professional connections necessary in any field of work. More than anything, though, college teaches how to turn a passion into a career.
Back in the beginning of 2004, Grand Canyon University exchanged its non-profit standing to a for-profit approach in order to escape a financial crisis within the university that could potentially have made GCU close its doors. Nonetheless, the for-profit status allowed the university to embrace a new business model that focused on selling the college experience. The boost in demand for secondary education also helped to get GCU into the model of success that it is today, as anyone can see from the astounding campus renovations and growing incoming classes.
The increase expenditure on student services at GCU can be seen all around campus. For instance, it was only a couple of years ago that Hegel and Canyon Hall were the only two dorms on campus; whereas now there are 15 housing options along with new dining options, gyms, pools, recreation areas, and classroom buildings. So is the high cost worth it? Yes, the cost of a college degree is absolutely and undeniably worth it. Furthermore, GCU has outstanding physical amenities that enable students to have the best college experience possible. Nevertheless, the most important thing that a college degree offers is not only the best years of your life, but also the skills to turn your passion into a career. After all, Grand Canyon University promises to be the place to “find your purpose,” and there is no price tag to that.