College costs have been on a constant rise for the last century. But in the last few decades, the cost has soared beyond what anyone outside of the last two generations could comprehend. Where many colleges have doubled, some even almost tripled, the cost of attending, students and the school alike are put through a series of events from economic strife that result in “rising costs or declining quality” at these schools (Feldman).
These most expensive colleges are being forced to compete with the more “practical” options, such as vocational schools, community colleges, and online schools. Where they have to offer “the simple and practical way” (not exactly quick and easy), private liberal arts colleges have to offer critical thought and a materialization of the future of all disciplines. The latter just happens to have a much more hefty price tag. Not because it was always innately so, but because more and more students are abandoning schools like these. Likewise donors are stopping their funding of these schools. In the end, these colleges are forced to decide between closing, or raising their cost to continue the competition and maintain the resources they have for their students. All the support colleges such as Occidental had in the past in quickly withering away as our society constantly moves in the favor of the cheap and immediately practicable alternative. So they are forced to function on their own dollar, which they don’t have many of. Hence, they go to the students.
Feldman and Archibald make the reason quite simple for us. They explicitly say that “economic growth itself is the driving engine of cost in the still artisan-like higher education industry.” Until higher education is able to remove itself from this capitalist toxicity and place value back in to learning with integrity, this problem will not be solved.