Over the past year the media has been reporting general discontent with the state of higher education, particularly its cost. Politicians have noticed this too and are trying to find governmental ways to address it.

Looking at it from a broader perspective, it is a phenomenon that isn’t just reserved for higher education. After all, the average spending per student in American public schools K-12 is $10,700 per year. Some states like New Jersey average over $17,000. This makes data like Highlands Latin School’s tuition all that more shocking.

public school expenditure per student

Because of the financial situation universities are finding themselves in, they are shutting down language, liberal arts, humanities, and fine arts programs. Even schools marketed as “liberal arts schools” are doing so. They are neutering themselves and cutting out the one thing that attracts students to their institutions: programs that teach them how to be human. “Being human” encompasses wisdom and virtue, knowing how to think and how to act, being able to discern truth and falsehood, goodness and evil, while being moved by beautiful things. It is the language, humanities, liberal arts, and fine arts programs that accomplish this.

But the schools have put themselves in this position. The economics demand it. If a student is going to pay $120,000 for four years of education, they need to have a way to pay it back. So we end up with young people striving for the highest paying jobs without wisdom and virtue.

But if the tuition was such that a student could pay it by working a part-time job, maybe we would end up with a society full of wise, virtuous, versatile people.

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