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julia1 1 May 2015 01:35 PM
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Two reasons. First, people from poor families should not be hampered in getting higher education: it's good for everybody if they can get good education, and I think the whole society will benefit from it. Second, the model where students pay exorbitant costs for education, and then feel entitled to a diploma, is not the best model for actually gaining education. From my experience, the most expensive private schools (I'm talking here about K-12) are not necessarily the strongest ones academically. On the contrary, they worry so much about making students unhappy, that they often refuse to give grades until much later, don't differentiate students by their level of achievement, try not to put students under much academic pressure, etc. Even the best of teachers cannot do much if the student is not willing to work hard. A student who already paid a fortune for the education feels entitled to reasonably good grades, low academic pressure, and eventually a diploma. This setting is not always conductive to getting a real education.

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VoiceOfRa 3 May 2015 10:02 PM
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> Second, the model where students pay exorbitant costs for education, and then feel entitled to a diploma, is not the best model for actually gaining education.

I'm not so sure about that. The students aren't paying for their education, their parents are. From the stories I've heard about students who actually pay for their own education, generally by working side jobs, take their learning very seriously. Then this may simply be a selection effect.


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MaximumLiberty 8 May 2015 09:42 AM
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That doesn't actually answer my question. I asked why you thought higher education would be free.
Your first point basically states that you believe higher education should be free because then poor people could have some. Well, yes, but that doesn't really say why. For example, do you want people who could not otherwise afford it to be able to attend frat beer parties? What is the public interest you are trying to serve?
Your second point doesn't really address the question at all. It criticizes the anecdotal lack of rigor in some anecdotal number of paid education providers. Surely, the problem there is the lack of rigor, not the fact of payment? In my experience with private schools, they treat whoever is paying -- typically the parents -- as the customer, and parent want rigorous education.

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julia1 8 May 2015 07:38 PM
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First of all, all I say here relates to STEM and other subjects that provide reasonable prospects of employment.
For the first point: the public interest is twofold. First, bigger pool of potential applicants, which means you get to select the best of the best. People who could not afford college due to poverty, but are perhaps brilliant, creative, motivated, hard working etc - I think it's in the society's interest to give them this opportunity. You get better skilled doctors, computer engineers, etc. Second: I believe that upward mobility is very beneficial to the society. If a young person from poor background knows that by working diligently (s)he can get college education, decent job, and move up in the socio-economic status, this creates a positive constructive mindset. The opposite is desperation that is often reflected in destructive behavior. Being able to attend frat beer parties is not at all in the same category - it does not provide real upward mobility, a chance to build a career, etc.

Second point: I guess different parents would define rigorous education differently. Not all parents want their children to experience "tough love", many of them would rather see them pampered. Another problem is that professors don't get in touch directly with the parents. If the student is unhappy, the parents will be unhappy by proxy, and they may not realize that this is how you get good education. I have experience with higher education in several countries, with different models, and I have noticed this stark difference. It is true that this is anecdotal experience. But here is the thing: many graduate students in STEM in top US schools, and people who work in high tech did not go through American colleges - they come from abroad, from countries like China, India, Korea, Russia, Israel, and so on. Why is that?

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