“Why does college cost so much?” is a rather odd reflection prompt, as it does not lend itself well to subjective interpretation and analysis. Economics does not—or at least should not—hinge on an individual’s feelings or opinions, but is instead a fact of reality that must be investigated and understood. There seems to be little I can do except regurgitate what was contained in the readings, given that the authors themselves do not significantly inject their own personal values into the analysis. In the absence of such subjective material, discussion should be left to those who have read through the economic data and are sufficiently trained to use it meaningfully. I, as a lowly college freshman, am simply not able to add significant insight on this front.
With all of that being said, my reaction to the information in the readings can still be reported. It does appear that the authors employed a novel approach to investigating the rising cost of college, as I have never before seen higher education compared alongside similar industries. The findings of consistent and predictable price fluctuation in personnel-intensive jobs suggests a common mechanism that has not as of yet been sufficiently elucidated. Public discussion of skyrocketing tuition—or at least the talk I am familiar with—often revolves around impropriety on the part of the college itself, with far less attention payed to systemic forces that may be causing this trend. This is understandable, though given the results of the authors’ economic analysis it seems that our obsession with individual schools is preventing us from seeing the forest through the trees. Unless we shift our focus, it seems likely that debates about the cost of higher education are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. And even if we can come to terms with the root cause, it may be very difficult or perhaps impossible for the government to enact effective policy, as the problem may simply be beyond any sort of centralized solution.