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Friday, November 08, 2013

A depressing picture from UMSL


I find this picture depressing, on many fronts.


1. This is my alma mater. When I went there, it was a bare-bones commuter school: 2 buildings plus an old golf course headquarters, 10,000 students, lots of parking lots, no dorms.  Construction everywhere: several buildings were completed while I was there, and the old golf course building was ready to be torn down.  When I mention I went to UMSL, I’m told “it’s not like it was when you were there”.  So I feel a sense of loss.  This isn’t unique: St. Bartholomew grade school is closed (grades 1-6). The whole parish of St. Williams is closed (7-8).  My high school closed one year after I attended.

2. Really, choosing a school on the basis of a heated pool?  I hope Adam is joking, but suspect he isn’t. As the cost of college to the student goes up, colleges increasingly feel the need to compete on amenities.

3. There is a disconcerting flip-flop for college students now.  It used to be that you lived modestly in college, and then when you graduated your standard of living went up.  Nearly all the students I knew at UMSL lived at home and had part-time jobs.  Some had full time jobs, while carrying full loads as students.  “Time management” wasn’t offered as a course, but you learned it anyway.

When we graduated, we were able to move on and move out. In my case, I got a nice grad school fellowship that meant I could go to school and have a modest apartment with a roommate (eventually my wife) and not take out any loans.

Now, the amenities at colleges are much nicer – remember, UMSL is a low end state school, not even the best state school in Missouri, and students are promised heated pools, game rooms, flat screen TVs, and health club facilities, etc.  Then you graduate and can afford few of these things; maybe you even have to move back in with Mom and Dad. You may still be working at Starbucks, only trying to live off it now and pay off student loans.

Student loans at UMSL? When I went there my tuition and fees were about $1250 – that’s not per semester, that’s the total for my entire career there. I usually took 16 or 17 hours. Now the in-state tuition is $315 per credit hour plus mandatory fees of $51.85 per credit hour; for 16 hours that’s $5869 per semester.

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