If we went back a couple decades ago, the majority of people at the time got a job after they graduated high school. College was optional for achieving higher education within the elite and scientists community. The average family would send their kids to public school from kindergarten to 12th grade, which costed none of their income. However, after the booming of information technology, the demand for skilled workers has skyrocketed, making four-year universities become a necessity for everyone. Along with the thirst for higher education and the need to get into universities is the incline of school tuition. Therefore, in order to pay for their tuition, the majority of students will get money from student loan and will end up with debt when the graduation day come. The number of student loan debt has reached trillion of dollars recently. Facing with such a enormous number, the side 1 supports the idea of free college tuition, the side 2 against the idea of free college tuition.
Making college tuition free for everyone will lift up the burden on the shoulder of the younger generation.
As the functionalist perspective, there is a disorder in society when people have to pay their own money for college (Ridnor). Students will have more student loan debt by the time they graduate, which in turn could delay their other financial goals such as buying a house, car or start a family. Plus, the debt will even increase the already-exist gap between the rich and the poor, making the younger middle-classed students more behind than where they started.
Therefore, from a functionalist perspective, there is a order in society when college tuition is free. By allowing every student to enter colleges with no worries about financial issues, everybody will have the same opportunity for advanced education, thus creating an equal start. Plus, people can have the freedom to choose career path that fits their ability the best, eliminating any wasteful productivity in the economy.
From the conflict perspective, schools in poor region have unequal power compared to those in rich region, which result in residential segregation (Ridnor, Canvas): the upper-classed children will be sent to well-funded schools and otherwise. This Savage Inequalities (Macionis, Social Problem) of schooling encourages the gap between the two groups in the future when college takes place. Most of colored children do not attend universities because of the tuition, even if they do, they usually end up in huge debt, putting more burden on younger generation and hinging their chance of purchasing their financial goals. The circle will happen again and again. In fact, it already occurred.
In conclusion, side 1 supports free college tuition because it brings order to society in term of economics and balance between races and gender.
The side 2 oppose the free tuition program. They go against the idea of free college tuition because this side argues that side one’s idea will put more burden on those who pay taxes.
From the functionalist perspective, according to side two, the latent function of paying for college is helping students to learn how to manage their budget more efficiently. (Ridnor) Since paying for college is a huge investment, people will automatically pay more attention to what they spend and how to create budgets. Those are soft skills that cannot be learned through classes, but people have to have that real financial pressure to be better choice makers, which in turn helps them in a long run. Thus, from the functionalist perspective, there exist an order in society when college tuition is not free (Ridnor). Plus, the main logic is that workers will eventually pay off their student loan if they do not get involved in gambling and criminals.
Moreover, from the conflict theory perspective, private universities would have unequal power compared to public universities (Ridnor). Plus, with the knowledge that everyone is paying by their own money, universities will have the incentives to cut costs to keep the tuition down so that they will get more students; at the same time, universities will have enough financial resources to fund their programs and innovate the educational system, making the experience for students more valuable. One real life evidence to prove this point is the majority of top tier universities are private school funded from people: Ivy League, Stanford University, CalTech.
In conclusion, people’s investment in college degree increases their annual income in general and helps them better at financial management and innovate the school’s systems.
After considering the benefit of both sides, I agree that it will be better for the society as a whole if college tuition is not free. First of all it will hurt private universities. Secondly, the money has to come from somewhere else if no student pays for it. So there will be an increasing in taxes for all the American workers. Then why some Europe countries are so successful with their free-tuition model such as Germany, Finland and Norway? Should America go after them? However it is unfair comparison because European countries offer students more vocational education in high school with labor market skills. America on the other hand, has a shortage for vocational education, leaving the majority of people with high school diploma unemployed. Therefore more Americans will rush their way into college for a brighter employment future. Thus, college with free tuition will not be able to offer much value for a huge American population that is thirsty for higher education.
Ridnor, Rachel. Lecture 3 Theoretical Perspectives. Canvas, 2018
Ridnor, Rachel. Lecture 5 Wealth and Poverty. Canvas, 2018
Ridnor, Rachel. Lecture 6 Racial Inequality. Canvas, 2018
Ridnor, Rachel. Lecture 7 Educational Inequality. Canvas, 2018
MACIONIS. SOCIAL PROBLEMS. 4th ed, Prentice Hall, 2009.
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