Academia, a World of Rude Awakenings
By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota
Is the core curriculum offered at colleges and universities changing so much as to necessitate an aggressive rise in annual academic tuition?.
During an interview on Errol Morris’s First Person, Christopher Langan, a man reported to have the world’s highest IQ at over 200, described academia to be a cold and heartless bureaucracy. “A breeding ground for parrots,” he exclaimed! Year-by-year, tuition continues to skyrocket with no end in sight. According to statistics collected from the website collegedata.com, the annual cost of private college tuition in 2016 stood at an average of $32,405. For state residents enrolled at public universities, the average cost was marked at $9,410 annually. Finally, for out of state residents attending public universities, the total cost for one year’s worth of education approached $23,894. Such figures are rather overwhelming which leads to a critical objection which arrives in the form of a question: how does academia justify the soaring cost of academic tuition? Is the core curriculum offered at colleges and universities changing so much as to necessitate an aggressive rise in annual academic tuition?
Are young and eager learners condemned to be ridden with debt before earning real world opportunities to graduate? Yet, while the cost of tuition rises, so do the salaries for university presidents and sports coaches. Based on an article that detailed the highest paid presidents of private colleges from Forbes this year, the top three are as follows: Jack P. Varsalona of Wilmington University who earned $5,449,405. He is followed by Mark S. Wrighton of Washington University who raked in $4,185,866. Finally, Gerald Turner of Southern Methodist University brought home $3,354,128. Those figures are overshadowed by figures provided by bestschools.com disclosing the 2013-2014 statistics of salaries paid to university sports coaches; they are as follows: men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, of Duke University was awarded $7,233,976. That figure is followed by the men’s basketball coach, John Calipari, of the University of Kentucky earning a whopping $5,400,000.
Last but not least, football coach, Nick Saban, of the University of Alabama walked away with $5,395,892. Yet, all of these figures fail to factor in the millions of dollars spent on the construction of amenities, museums, and state of the art research centers. Now, here is a rhetorical question worth asking: is there anything wrong with this picture? Why are colleges and universities dedicated to the preservation of a paradigm that supports big money over education? In all practicality, how necessary are sports, amenities, and high salaries when weighed against the traditional purposes of academia? On graduation day, professors and senior administration officials alike dress in costumes that appear borrowed from an era of bygone obsolescence. The likes of which have little to do with the realities of today. Such appearances reinforce notions of elitism as opposed to displays of receptive approachability.
It is thought that once a graduate walks away with a degree, they have joined an educated elite ready to take on the challenges of a troubled world, but is that truly the case? How much ideological conditioning is packed into academic coursework? A great deal of which is subliminally engineered which makes a mind oblivious to an injustice as it unfolds. Rather, an injustice is treated as something conducive to the norm because it is thought that is how things have always been. This specifically refers to intellectual injustices waged against the great spirit of the human renaissance. Whatever happened to the world of the self-taught autodidact? If someone has an idea, carries the capacity to turn that idea into a topic of researchable academic merit, and present their findings both objectively and critically, could that not stand as a substitute to the rigid methodology of academic coursework? Does academia have any right to hold back minds of great genius for purposes of mundane conventionality? Academia could undergo revolutionary reform by offering students the opportunity to dedicate their degrees to researching subjects and sciences of individually driven interest. Such reform would eliminate restraints imposed on minds that are well ahead of the conventional bell curve.
That does however, require a great deal of intellectual independence which is not inherently natural to the human condition, but the alternative in question should be offered nonetheless. Is intellectual independence a human right? What excuses does academia have to keep tabs on genius? Is it about tuition and the great fortunes to be made from its subsidized collection? Certainly, if there was a public university established on the premise of intellectual independence, the life of the autodidact could achieve mainstream inclusion in a way that would revolutionize academia as we know it! Where intellectuals can restore its original parameters away from the tutelage of big money, a distortive evil to knowledge and all avenues of higher learning.
Omar Alansari-Kreger, of Minneapolis, is a Muslim-American, a writer, and a social activist.
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