Shouldering the Burden

Students have used a variety of options to pay their own way through college over the years, including scholarships, grants, and working a job or two.  However, modern day American students, for the most part, have parents who are stepping in and paying for the rising cost of college.  The cost of college has risen about 4 percent a year, not controlling for inflation, over the last 20 years.[1]  Parents who have saved up for years to put their kid(s) though college are not only dipping into those hard earned funds, but also putting their name down on loans as another method of paying for the expensive education.

A structural-functionalist anthropologist argues that the structure or institutions of a culture never change but the individuals that make up society do.  The institution that has remained the same in modern day American culture is college.  However, the current conflict that is affecting American society is the rising cost of college.  Attending college is an increasingly desired path to take through life, and is becoming seen as more of a necessity rather than a trivial desire, in spite of the rising costs.  Individuals in American society have adapted to accommodate the escalating costs.  Parents are stepping up and fulfilling the role of money providers for their children for a longer period of time, either giving them the money outright, or taking out loans in their name for their children’s education.  Children are no longer financially independent once they turn 18, with their parents stepping in and continuing to help them out for as long as they need.  The institution of college has not changed, just how individuals are paying for it.

Cultural and personality theory looks at the valued personalities that are produced by a culture.  In American culture the desired personality is someone who is self-sufficient and pays their own way without necessarily relying on others.  In the past if someone could not afford college then they did not go, but now there is such a high premium on going to college, people are willing to go and pay unbelievable prices to get an exceptional education.  However, paying for college with America’s desired personality of self-sufficiency is becoming harder and harder.  American culture has provided a solution for this conflict between what is feasible and what is expected, and people can now take out loans to pay for college.  This allows people to still independently pay for college while giving them more time, a grace period, to pay the full sum.

Obtaining a degree in America has become increasingly more costly, but both structural-functionalism and cultural and personality theory argue that American culture has adapted to give people alternate ways of paying, and shouldering that expensive burden.

— Peyton K.


[1] Leonhardt, David, “College Costs: Rising, Yet Often Exaggerated.” The New York Times. (2013) n. pg. Web. Oct 13, 2013. http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/college-costs-rising-yet-often-exaggerated/?_r=0.

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50 Responses to Shouldering the Burden

  1. Abi Peters says:

    College – such a good topic! The use of culture and personality theory was really well applied: there is absolutely a cultural preference or appreciation for individuals who are self-sufficient and do not rely on others. I am lucky enough to have parents that are able to afford to put me through college and I often feel guilty, that I am somehow breaking the united stated moral code or that people will not respect me as much as they might respect an individual who had to finance themselves. Culture and personality is also interesting, and this was implied in the paragraph, in that in the United States people are supposed to and want to go to college – so much so, as was pointed out, they are willing to take out hundreds of thousands in loans. If an individual chooses not to go to college, then they are socially looked down upon and institutionally punished – unable to secure a higher paying job for example. But if he or she does take out loans for college then he or she will undoubtedly spend years spending that higher paycheck on paying back loans. The desired american personality is quite the catch 22.

    • Allison Kessler says:

      I completely agree with your follow up on the cultural and personality theory. I do find it odd that a teenager that decides against going to college is looked down upon, more so than those who attend college and do badly or even those who flunk out. The desirable traits of obtaining a college education have a double standard of living in the sense that you must go in order to have a profitable future career while also having to keep grades high and graduate to give most of that money back to the school and the banks. It is a ridiculous cultural practice that forces some to not do well in school because they are also working to get money to pay off loans as well as not being able to take a year break before going into college due to cultural standards.

      • Sam Calahan says:

        I think you’re both very right that the dominant culture in the US esteems college-bound teens much more than those who either choose not to or cannot attend college. Ironically, I think many within this same culture, when confronted with two equally successful people, one educated and the other not, would esteem the person able to achieve success without such an education more. On the other hand, different cultures within our society (among blue-collar workers, for example, who are typically not college-educated) likely would not esteem a teen any higher for going to college on their parents dime than one who went into full-time blue-collar work after high school. And, for those who are able to go to college, many go without a clue about what they want to study or do with their education anyway. So, why does the ideal of going directly to college, on parents’ finances, persist? Shouldn’t teens be encouraged to find a passion before pursuing higher education?

  2. Blaine Wajdowicz says:

    Abi, both you and the post’s author make interesting discussions regarding culture and personality. I’d like to take it a step further by discussing the idea of parents cosigning on loans from a post-structuralist view point. Post-structuralism discusses power in society as relational. Here, the relation is between loan companies and students. In reciprocation for the funds to attend school, and (ideally) secure a job in the workforce, students are consenting to financial restrictions applied to them for the next chapter of their life. This will influence the student’s credit rating, which in turn impacts the ability to rent an apartment, lease a car, or the like.

    • Scout E. says:

      I think this is a really interesting point. Post-structuralism is definitely applicable to this situation. There is a new power being exerted over college students by banks because of the financial loans they there are required to take out and eventually pay. And I agree that this affects financial security in the future for these specific college students. I think there is also a psychological affect that can have disastrous consequences because of this relationship between the bank and students. Many graduates who have the burden of paying for college loans are more likely to fall into depression because of the psychological power of the student loan and the pressure the bank exerts. There are definitely many ways this power can affect an individual.

      • Mateo Hajek says:

        Scout, I like how you bring up the point of power exertion over students by banks. It makes for a good Post-Structural argument and would allow for analysis of the relationship between banks, students, cosigners, and colleges within the whole education system. That could even go well within Peyton’s Structural-Functionalist argument about the changing social structure to accommodate for rising tuition costs.

  3. Colleen Godfrey says:

    I agree with the last line of this essay: “American culture has adapted to give people alternate ways of paying, and shouldering that expensive burden.” I read an article about emerging adulthood. It applies mostly to young adults who did not immediately “become” adults at 18. The article talked about how it is more common now in developed countries, like America, for 18-20 something’s to stay at home and be dependent upon their parents until a later age. This is a new demographic to explain a phenomena of continued dependence of children on parents in developed countries. Like the author said, culture has adapted to make the burden of college more accessible to more young adults. It is expected that the family pays for at least some of the cost and the children therefore remain dependent. The stress of providing the finances is then placed on the parents instead of the student themselves so they are enabled to continue their child-like dependence.

    • Ashley Gates says:

      Colleen,
      I appreciate you bringing this aspect of extended dependency into this blog. I believe that it can also fit into the culture-personality theory in society today. It used to be that the moment you turned 18 you were an adult and were moving out of your parents house (give or take the age you graduated high school). However, now it is basically seen as okay and normal for an individual to stay with their parents while going to college, at least for a short period of time. This can fall into the culture-personality theory in two different ways. One we could see the fact that society is accepting this extended dependency because it reflects an individual striving to get an education and succeed…the ideal personality/individual today. It could also fit in by saying that this extended dependency is another option that has been developed and accepted to produce more of the ideal people in our society. Either way I think it is fascinating how our society’s age of dependence has lengthened. We could even bring into the picture the college students who may not live with their parents but are strongly relying on them financially while living on their own.

  4. Alexandra Sapien says:

    I agree whole heartily that in this day and age parents are required to support their children past 18 and for usually 2 of the 4 years at college if not all of the 4. From the perspective of an 18 year old and a freshman in college at this juncture it isn’t expected for me to be financially stable at 18, most freshman in general call their moms when needing a couple extra dollars in their pocket. I think the fact that you were able to pick out the structural functionalist theory that it is almost impossible nowadays to be expected to be financially stable if we do not go to college. However the amount of money needed to go to college these days is shoved into an endless circle of if you have money, you will be successful because your parents have money to send you to college. Even though there are more ways to pay for college it still does not extinguish the exceeding cost of college and its never ending increasing expense.

  5. McKenzie A says:

    This is a very interesting article and it relates to so many of us at this point and time in our lives. I really liked the use of the culture and personality theory, that young adults who pay their way through college are much more respected in society. But also as you pointed out, the rise of the cost of attending a university (especially out-of-state) has made it nearly impossible for a young adult, to pay for their own way for college with no help from outside sources (parents, grandparents, etc.) Even though their are ways to manage it, going to school, working a full time job, and taking out loans can be really stressful on a person who is experiencing freedom and living alone for the first time. Several students and their parents do not want that individual to graduate and start their new life in serious debt. I am lucky enough that my parents and grandparents are helping me pay for college so I do not have this problem, but I feel for those who do. Overall the essay was very well written and the theories you used do argue your point very well.

  6. Emma Simpleman says:

    Definitely an interesting topic. I really enjoyed how you looked at this topic through a culture and personality view. While reading this the thought of how we almost have a double standard for getting a college degree and paying for college came up. It is interesting that you noted that as a culture we desire someone who is self-sufficient, but also someone who is well educated. It brought up the question of if we are really self-sufficient if we need help paying for college, or if the idea of having a degree is more desirable than paying for college on our own, without loans, etc Overall I thought this was a great topic and absolutely relatable.

  7. Sophia Kolybabiuk says:

    I enjoyed how the writer described the desired personality in American culture being someone who is “self sufficient” and doesn’t need to rely on others for support. In which this case is true, that the aspiration for people that strive to be “successful” is someone that can support themselves, which mostly everyone yearns to become or accomplish in their lives. This comes with the modern day system of paying, which gives many people the opportunity to gain an education and accomplish this sense of “self-sufficiency”. Structural-functionalist theory being used in this essay was perfect how the writer described how the culture of people going to college doesn’t change, but how the people and ways have progressed within time. The fact that prices of college are getting more and more expensive, and how most people have an opportunity to attend college by taking loans out. Even if they don’t have money for it at the time, people still choose to attend and gradually pay back the money in time, in order to earn the same opportunity of education. Our culture in the importance of attending college has remained the same, the people and systems within college are the only things that have changed around the general idea.

  8. Alyssa Ferguson says:

    I agree that the culture and personality has had a very strong impact on the increasing number of people that are attending college. It is starting to become the case that if you want to be competitive in your field you need education past a bachelor’s degree. The definition of success has changed in our culture and is now determined by status and paycheck. However, I do not agree that it is too much to ask to be financially stable when you attend college. My student loans are in my name and I am working to put myself through college. There more to paying for college then tuition. There is rent, bills, food, social activities and I think that college is a time to start developing financial independence, and luckily parents are there to make sure you don’t hang yourself out to dry. This may not be the circumstances for the majority of college students, but there are still plenty of people who work their way through college and come out with massive amounts of their own debt to pursue their dreams.

  9. Sophia Grenier says:

    This is a very interesting topic in general, though I think it resonates particularly with a lot of us. I was fortunate enough that my dad made me a deal before I came to college–as long as I have at least a 3.0 GPA, he’d pay for everything (in my undergrad. Grad school’s up to me.). This has let me get through my undergrad with no debt, so I can go into Grad school worrying ONLY about the MA and –hopefully one day–Ph.D. That’s a HUGE advantage. What’s so fascinating to me about your essay, though, is your discussion of being self sufficient in a culture where that’s pretty hard–and how that’s something that can be explained by Culture and Personality Theory. It can be very difficult to get the loans you need for school without adequate credit–something most 18 year old kids don’t have much of. It’s pretty interesting how there’s a sort of cycle of education amongst families. Parents pay for their kids to go to college, kids get better jobs, those kids pay for their kids to go to college, etc. I think that’s where Culture and Personality Theory is very useful and a really great way to analyze this phenomenon.

  10. Dakota Mendrick says:

    I think all of us as college students can relate to this topic. Some of us have the support of our parents paying for college, others take out loans and work multiple jobs. Alot of us have/do all three to pay for college. I know, as an 18 year old, that I could never pay for the cost of college on my own. Like Sophia Grenier said, at 18 years old it is very difficult to get loans without good credit and most 18 year olds don’t have much credit. Luckily I have the help of my parents and other family members that are willing to pay for me to get an education, which relates to your perspective of structural-fuctionalism when paying for college. I grew up in Breckenridge, Colorado where many kids I know didn’t go to college because they want to take a year or two off to travel, ski, or work. So when you mentioned that there is a high premium on going to college, I was a little bit surprised. I know going to college right after high school is probably a norm in most communities, but in the community I grew up in it is no where near as likely. Overall, I thought it was a super relatable essay that kept my attention.

  11. Hannah Hilden-Reid says:

    I found that this essay brought up many crucial issues that all of us ( as students and educators) can easily relate to. It emphasizes the importance of discussion around this topic. Although, I found one of the points that was brought up to be something that could be studied further, more specifically in reference to the following sentence, ” the institution of college has not changed, just how individuals are paying for it.” While I do think this is true in some respects, I do find holes in this logic. I would argue that the institution of college has changed. It has changed in the sense that much of the focus has been moved away from just education but rather providing the customer (students) with a good product. Meaning, a change in focus on say, facilities, athletics, pride, etc. This change in focus allows for the raising prices of college. People are going to pay more for a better product, thus it is necessary for colleges to change in order to compete with other colleges.

  12. Scott MacDonald says:

    This is definitely a very appropriate topic! This hits home for me, as I’m sure it does for many here, as I am one of said college students who are relying on their parents to get them through college. I for one did not receive any scholarships, but am providing through work study and the multitude of loans that I (unfortunately) will be forever indebted to. As you stated, there’s definitely a growing desire to attend college and it’s becoming almost a necessity for a career after college. However, I for one didn’t think of loans as “shouldering the burden” for the American people. I’ve always viewed loans as a bad thing and a “last resort” of sorts. But that’s honestly what it is for most people, myself included, because without those loans, I wouldn’t ever be able to attend a university.

  13. Christopher McKeown says:

    Like everyone else has mentioned, this is a great topic, relevant to us all and forever pungent in todays college institutions. I did enjoy reading Peyton’s relations to both structural-functionalist and cultural evolution, and was able to understand their representation of college as an institution and the individuals adapting, but was really struck with Hannah’s interjection of how college as an institution has changed as well. Personally, I would be interested in a Practice theory approach to see which students solely pay for college, whether through loans or savings, and those who have financial support, parents, grandmother, etc. Then, if we were able to compare these findings to that of college students in the 70’s, 80’s, or even 90’s, there would be some major discrepancies. For several years now, one of roommates has been struggling with the increased cost of college, especially off-campus housing here in Boulder, and is being limited by how much financial support his now retired parents have actually set aside for him. He is significantly younger than his older brothers, but the anticipation of a successful middle-class couple is being challenged here by the constant monetary increases of college life.

  14. Lauren Wahl says:

    Definitely a great topic, very relatable. I do agree with the interjection that the institution of college has changed as well, looking at my tuition bill compared to my uncle’s when he went to CU in the 1970’s. With the cost of living, like buying clothes, dentist appointments, buying necessities, things really add up, and the cost of college surely doesn’t help that. But by reading this essay and by viewing this subject through different anthropological lenses, it made it easier to comprehend how someone might view this subject differently. Overall, very good job.

  15. Cassidy Reeves says:

    Great topic! I think it’s really ironic that we are at an all time high of college attendees but college prices are also shooting out the roof. I like the theories that you used to analyze college prices. I think it would also be interesting to look at the issue through a poststructuralist perspective. Students that are able to pay for college on their own may have a higher perceived position of power than a student who needs to take out loans.

  16. Patrick Curtin says:

    I thought you picked a perfect topic with college tuition. I thought it was really smart that you defined both theories before stating how they related to college, which was a very effective way to write. I think you could’ve also looked at the idea through practice theory, and how we as students are expected to pay for our own college tuition but in reality many students take out loans, have help from family or have scholarships. I think this whole blog post is very relatable reminding us about all the different ways we are able to pay our way through going to college, along with the burdens of having to pay for transportation, food, housing and all that. Overall I think you wrote a very good essay that clearly included two fields of anthropology as well as keeping my attention and reminding me of how little money I have.

  17. Kyle Santi says:

    You make some good points about how the American desire for self-sufficiency is becoming harder and harder. Fortunately, there are more methods for paying for college that many are taking advantage of. You also did well in pointing out how people change and adapt to their new conditions and find ways around obstacles. Good work!

  18. Martin Golibart says:

    I think it would be interesting to look at this growing trend from a poststructuralist viewpoint. It is an expectation for parents to pay for their children’s college education. Foucault would say that this is biopolitics. We can also look at the social expectation of a college education. It is growing and growing by the year. Young adults are disciplined to attend college, and parents are disciplined by societal expectations to pay for college.

  19. Kayla Clancy says:

    I find it interesting that I also chose the topic of paying for college for my money essay, specifically student loans. My essay applied the Culture and Personality School but I took the perspective that a college degree is the value and that although being self-sufficient is important I believe the degree itself is the central desired trait. Although, it could be argued that when comparing people with the same degree that the individual who has been self-sufficient is more accomplished. However, I can also think of the desired personality type of a parent with a college aged student of one that is able to help them financially through college. Therefore depending on which person you are looking at, the student or parent, the responsibility of paying for the college degree would change. The individual who is paying for their own college is valued while the parent who is financially able to help their daughter/son is also valued. In the end, I do agree that being self-sufficient is a personality valued in our modern society and your argument is very good.

  20. Erica Blais says:

    Great topic choice! I thought this was a very interesting way to approach the issue of finances involving college tuition. I feel that these changes in financial independence are significantly impacted by the changes in viewpoints in regards to success in our society. A college education has become so idealized that more and more people desire to go to college; society often associates success with having a college degree. More families are willing to go to extreme financial lengths to send their high school grads to college. Perhaps practice theory could be used to further examine the perceived notion that job and financial success will come out of earning a degree. While it may seem that people with college degrees earn higher paying jobs and therefore are more financially stable, they and their families could have massive amounts loans and financial debt. Their job with a $60,000 yearly salary could have cost them over $100,000 in college loans and trust funds. Since most people keep their financial situations private, one would not necessarily know that someone with a full-time job is now in debt from spending more on the degree that landed him/her the position than the job itself.

  21. Claire Cohen says:

    This topic is extremely relevant to American culture today. As college has become more necessary in ‘getting ahead’ in today’s society, many parents are willing to shoulder the financial burden for their child’s educational attainment. We live in a credentialled society, in which higher degrees come to be required even for some jobs that may not be intellectually demanding or for which an advanced degree is unnecessary. Although degrees are not necessarily needed for many jobs, employers are forced to expect certain credentials because the number of applicants far exceeds the number of available positions. Jobs that do not require much skill are requiring college degrees making the attainment of post-secondary education a high priority for most Americans. This fact combined with the undoubtedly highest cost of college in American history has lead to parental assistance for those who have the ability to pay. It is interesting to consider how credentialism as well as unreasonable college costs reproduces inequality. To make money requires a degree, and a degree requires paying for college. Families that come from the lower socioeconomic strata do not have the resources to pay for their child’s education. Parents taking out loans offers another option, but still, many individuals do not have the financial resources (i.e. good credit) to even borrow money. This leads to individual students taking out loans in their own name, accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in debt just to remain at the baseline of college educated. Consequently, these students graduate at a disadvantaged position relative to their peers that had their education paid for them, further reproducing economic inequality in the next generation of Americans.

  22. Stephanie Grossart says:

    I wish I thought of this topic. It is obvious yet I did not think of it. I believe that college is turning into a type of business. University of Colorado Boulder is one school that raised its tuition every year. Thankfully I have my parents to help me out with college. Most students I know Are working to pay for school. Loans are a way to pay but the interest rates are outrageous. So I ultimately agree with you that the way people are paying for college has changed but the institution of college has changed as well. Maybe not as much but the demand for a college education has changed, the ways to get into college have changed, and the classes themselves have changed.

  23. Alana Spielman says:

    This topic is relatable to many young adults within this day and age. It’s amazing that parents have to give up their own means with the hope that the kid(s) their putting through school will end up using their degree to earn a living. Parents risk a lot financially with the hope that it will eventually have a big pay back for their children. I also really liked how you applied structural-functionalist theory. This theory works perfectly within the realm of what you are trying to describe. While college education is constant, the cost continuously rises every year. This was a well written essay!

  24. Ellis Hughes says:

    I very much enjoyed the direction you took with culture and personality. In my own experience I struggle with the fact that my parents are helping me pay for college because I want to be able to do it on my own, but I can’t afford it with the measly income I make as a student. But another direction you could have gone with culture and personality theory is the way of discouragement from college as a result of the rising tuition. Many of my friends from high school aren’t attending (some for a year, others not at all) because of the high costs. Instead they work to save money to go to college later or to sustain themselves. The price of education opens up this dilemma where many want to go to college to get better jobs than the ones they have, yet they can’t afford to get the education that they need for those jobs, so many of them either delay it or decide to make by on their own self-determination. It’s a very relevant topic to discuss that many can associate with their own lives.

  25. Danielle Maxey says:

    Your essay was very interesting to read. The costs of college have grown to an extremely high amount and these are some ways people have adjusted to the costs but not all. It would be interesting to read about how others have adjusted to the costs of school and to look at these other ways in closer detail as well. I know some people who tried extremely hard in high school to get those scholarships and others who have chosen to go through the military to help pay for school. There are some students who put the loans in their own name and work through school to pay it and others who go to community colleges to start off their degree before transferring into a larger one.

  26. John Cooper says:

    The essay did a very good job applying collage to the two chosen theories but I still don’t feel like there is a fulfilling explanation here. Which is not surprising, as we have moved further into class the more modern theories we have studied provide what i feel is a much better explanation for why collage has gotten more expensive. Economic anthropology does a particularly good job in my mind. As capitalism has worked its way into the education system universities have gotten more competitive with each other. This have caused them to increase tuition to pay for the improvements they want to make that are not covered by government spending. Additionally high tuition is a symbol of being an exclusive and elite school.

  27. Kelsey Stimson says:

    The idea on college prices is an interesting one, since I think we can all agree that going to CU is extremely expensive, especially if you are out of state like I am. Yes my parents do pay for the majority of my college, which I am blessed for. However, I think that a good point to bring up is how college students really use their time. I have seen far too many times students whose parents pay for all of their school expenses, skip class, fail tests and act like its not a big deal since it isn’t coming out of their pockets. On the contrary, I have a few friends who are on scholarships, who I feel personally, get much more out of the money they are spending because they realize just how expensive it is for them to attend. I think depending on who pays for your college education; will really shape studying habits and what you take out of this experience. I disagree however with the statement that the institution of American colleges hasn’t changed. I think especially in the last 50 years, it has changed dramatically. The classes now available on culture and ethnic studies were 100% not available in the past. The fact that I am taking an entire class on Africana Studies amazes me. I think the education department has come a long way in the last couple of decades on issues like the importance of preserving our environment and generational revolutions is extremely interesting and inspiring.

  28. Christopher Sol says:

    This article helps explain why we pay so much for college and it does it very well. When I applied for colleges, they made you pay at every opportunity they had. You had to pay almost $100 just to apply! Tuition was a huge factor when i was deciding where to go. This I feel shouldn’t be as factor as it is today. At one point I found myself basing my decision on more of the price than the college. The scholarship system I think should be much larger in this nation because that is what helped me make my decision. This should be available to a much larger range of people. People these days are coming out college in a lot of debt from loans and the cost of college. This puts graduates at a huge disadvantage and should be addressed better.

  29. Daniel Greer says:

    Your application of structural-functionalism highlights the innate inconsistency of this theoretical model. In your paper, you astutely recognize that both the means of paying for college as well as the cultural value of a degree have changed. The problem is that structural-functionalism doesn’t properly account for change. You write that college as an institution is static and subsequently an appropriate example of structural-functionalism’s stability. But the culture surrounding university education—how it should be financed, its inherent value, etc.—has changed completely. This isn’t just a case of change on a microscopic or individual level. This is a restructuring of the cultural landscape on a macroscopic scale. You gave a valiant effort trying to integrate structural-functionalist theory into your paper, but I think I’m beginning to see why it’s an outdated perspective; it doesn’t explain the collision, conflict, and resolution that births new generations of cultural norms and institutions.

  30. Wilson Riphenburg says:

    Great choice of topic, and one that benefits from an anthropological examination. The structural functionalism approach does well to explain the correlation between the institutions and the people. I agree with your point that the purpose and composition of colleges and universities has not really changed over time; however, the function of these institutions is to teach ideas, which are dynamic. Thus, the structure of college has remained static but its intellectual makeup is constantly changing. It is the latter which has driven the rising cost of college. Like with all things, such as fashion, music, science/technology, progress is the name of the game and education is no different. In today’s society, the value of most everything is measured by money, and the trend of progress means a rising cost for goods and services. College is intended to prepare individuals for the ‘real world’ and give them skills to engender the desired personality of self-sufficiency that you mentioned in your culture and personality perspective. In this way, you are paying for a kind of intellectual commodity; one that is refined and repriced each year.

  31. Scout E. says:

    Overall, I think this is a well written essay that brings up an interesting observation. But I think this essay does incorporate a broad generalization about parents. Not all parents can, or want to, pay for their child’s education. There’s economic and personality factors that dictate this decision. The effect of some parents choosing not to pay for their child’s education can be seen in other structural realms of Amercian society, most notably the military. The amount of young individuals that have joined the military in the past decade has increased exponentially. Having had many friends join the military, I can say that a major reason why military interest has spiked is because of the military’s promise to pay for college for those who have limited options at home. On a related note, college students are not the only demographic affected by rising costs The switch from financial independence to financial dependence has affected more than just college students, but also those who have decided to delay or not go to college because of the increase in costs. While there are a lot of generalizations in this article, it does a good job on focusing on one of many demographics that are affected, college students and parents that choose to support them.

  32. Neil Tobiasen says:

    very interesting take on a topic that is taking a major place in society today. I agree with you 100% that obtaining a degree in America has become unreasonably expensive, and I am one of those kids who’s fortunate enough to have parents that can fund my way through college and expect a full return once I begin my career and saving money. Loans are one of the ways to get around the struggle of paying for your full tuition, but many students still have to pay off these loans way into their 30s. All in all I agree with your stance and believe that America should realize that obtaining an education is more important than collecting the money from students.

  33. Anastasia M. says:

    This is a very interesting concept, especially from a first hand perspective as a college student. My one question is, are we entirely independent if we are relying on the government and loan agencies for the loans to pay for our immensely pricey education? We may be paying for it “on our own,” but with money that we rely on someone else to provide to us. Is the desire to have such an education changing the American desired self sufficient personality into a personality that presents itself as self sufficient, but is secretly reliant?

  34. Kitman Gill says:

    This is a very timely and relevant topic! Oh, college. Sometimes I have to wonder why we put ourselves through this. I really like that you addressed the way we handle the rising cost of college, but I think a very good question is WHY is the cost of college rising? I don’t think we had discussed many of the economic anthropology schools before this essay was due, but they are definitely important and might be able to help answer these questions. Most kids that go to college can’t afford it without substantial help, as you discussed. Usually, in a supply and demand type of system, demand is what drives the prices. If everybody stopped trying to go to college, would the prices drop? Right now, colleges can demand whatever price they want because the education they supply is deemed to be worth it. But if people stopped deciding that it was worth it, would colleges lower their prices? Or is the entire system of post-secondary education ruled by something completely different than the scales of supply and demand? I don’t know enough about colleges or the economy to answer these questions, but I think it is another interesting angle to look at as far as college prices go.

  35. Wesley gordon says:

    I agree with everything in this essay and I think if everybody stopped trying to go to college, college tuition would not be so expensive. Just like supply and demand.. I think that there is a broad observation over parents, not all parents can and want to pay for college. Economic situations is also a factor

    • Steve Goddard says:

      That’s kind of a ridiculous notion to say “if everybody stopped trying to go to college, college tuition would not be so expensive.” If anything tuition costs would go up if fewer people went to school because schools could not keep up with necessary costs. The real issue does not lie in the amount of people trying to go to school but with the system surrounding the economic policies. Student loans and Federal loans have become a trap, that as mentioned in many comments is derived from this “need” to go to school to get a good job. Loans are given in a subsidized manor, and at extremely high percentage rates that accrue massive amounts of debt by the time a student leaves college. It is unfair to the student and the economy to have a system set up this way. This ties into Capitalism within the United States because banks are major benefactors of loans being paid out to students hoping to get a higher education. Just like the housing market with subprime mortgages, this time of lending is based on a system that is bound to break. It would be relevant to evaluate this through historian Karl Marx, and see how this type of economic constraint is oppressive in some sense. Great topic that is something we will certainly be dealing with in our lifetime on a major economic scale. Can’t wait!

      Good Stuff!

  36. Miles Agan says:

    College is a great topic to analyze when regarding money. As you discuss, a college degree is basically seen as necessary in our society today and universities are most likely enforcing this belief and economically benefiting from it. While it is more expensive to go to college today, it is also more expected to see a college degree on a resume. Student loans are a good way to to make people pay for the long term, but most college students had parents that went to college as well. Over time, people of all generations who have children will plan ahead to support them through college, because tuition is only going to get more expensive and a degree will only become more of a necessity.

  37. Stephanie Sanchez says:

    This essay was really interesting because there are so many angles. I do think that going to college and instilling going to college instead of working is through society. In high school, I can remember teachers telling me that you needed a college education to waitress. It’s interesting to look at the culture and personality perspective because it’s something we, as a culture, don’t think about. We know the ideal way but rarely do we actually follow that. Even if we are relying on our parents to support us while in college, we won’t rely on them financially after college. I think that could be the happy medium in our culture.

  38. Jorge Gomez Herrera says:

    You chose the best topic to talk about, these is a topic that relates to many students. Student loans is an option that many of us have chosen in order to attend college. We are lucky to have these option because as you mentioned, college has become a necessity in order to succeed in modern society. I liked the sentence where you mentioned that we are no longer independent once we turn 18, we still need our parents even when are adults. Nice work!

  39. worldartstudiesstudent says:

    This was really interesting to me. I agree with you when you said that college has become more of a necessity, which is why so many people are attending college, but also I believe that more often than not, a lot of individuals are choosing not to go to college because there are better opportunities without it. Both ways can be argued, but both also have a great deal to do with money. It was also interesting to read the part where you talked about how even though us students are adults now we still need a great deal to depend on our parents for money for college, and cosigning loans (well most of us). We usually cannot wait to be on our own and be independent but the cost of college and the need to attend it has all changed our futures.

  40. Jacklynn Sanchez says:

    This was really interesting to me. I agree with you when you said that college has become more of a necessity, which is why so many people are attending college, but also I believe that more often than not, a lot of individuals are choosing not to go to college because there are better opportunities without it. Both ways can be argued, but both also have a great deal to do with money. It was also interesting to read the part where you talked about how even though us students are adults now we still need a great deal to depend on our parents for money for college, and cosigning loans (well most of us). We usually cannot wait to be on our own and be independent but the cost of college and the need to attend it has all changed our futures.

  41. Joe Wirth says:

    “Attending college is an increasingly desired path to take through life, and is becoming seen as more of a necessity rather than a trivial desire, in spite of the rising costs.”

    This quoted statement from this essay really exemplifies how I feel at the University of Colorado and what I feel is becoming one of the bigger problems with higher education in the United States. A college degree has started become the minimal level of credibility that has to be met to get good jobs in our culture, and although I think it’s great that more and more people can receive good educations, I don’t think it’s a college education alone that gets you ready for the “real” world.

    It’s really a matter of experiences that will get you ready, that will give you the knowledge you need to better yourself and improve where you stand as an individual. I would say I’ve learned a lot at CU the past 3 years, but it’s been at internships and other jobs I’ve had throughout these past few years where I’ve learned and improved myself the most, not by taking class.

    In terms of the monetary costs and the alternative means of paying for college, I would say I’m pretty good example of that problem as well. For the first year I was funded by my parents, and then I went through the process of becoming an in-state student taking out loans and paying for literally everything on my own, and I’m not going to lie it was really tough which is part of the reason why I had to take the other jobs I mentioned earlier that have helped me out.

    Sitting on a bunch of debt now getting ready to graduate in May, I can’t help but wonder if coming to the CU was even worth it after all I’ve had to do that has gotten me to this point. But the decision to receive higher education is a very pricy investment in young people’s lives, and it’s very unfortunate that it places young people in a pit of debt for a lot of their lives after school is over, and it’s even more unfortunate when young people graduate from college thinking that the investment wasn’t worth the time or the effort.

  42. I really enjoyed reading your blog regarding how a structural-functionalism and cultural and personality theory argue that American culture has adapted to give people alternate ways of paying, and shouldering that expensive burden. It is fascinating to read, but with the recent new that President Obama has stated and the Department of Education is launching a new initiative this fall to help students avoid repayment of student loans, there is a possible end to this view that you have taken. There are now several departments that have created new ways in helping the struggling student borrowers to help repay the federal loans.
    Take a look: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/27/student-loan-outreach-obama/2884389/

    It is interesting to see that we can go to school and not have to pay back all of the student loans! That will be the day!!

  43. Rachael Sheehy says:

    In regards to the culture and personality aspect, one could also argue that the ideal type of parent has changed from the “kicking you out of the nest” persona to parents who continue to financially sustain their children after the age of majority. This change is similar to the change one can observe in the degree to which parents provide emotional sustenance to their adult children. Perhaps most apparent in the millennial generation, the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality seems to have filtered over to a tendency for parents to foster their child’s academic self reflection and exploration as opposed to maximum economic efficiency. This is of course subject to socio-economic constraints and I am not asserting that families unable to pay for college do not desire their children’s well being.

  44. Colton Erickson says:

    I don’t believe that the tendency for parents of this generation to “Shoulder the burden” when it comes to paying for college has anything to do with the “everyone gets a trophy mentality”. I think that it is a cultural adaptation to the growing necessity to attend college combined with growing economic hardship. Using the ideals of culture and personality, you could say that parents being willing to spend more money to help there kids is only a result of an ideal in American culture to hope for, and attempt to insure, the success of their children.

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