The Cost of College Education
For a research project in my AP English class, I've been researching the cost and quality of college education in the United States, and comparing it to the cost and quality of college education abroad, specifically in various European countries. What I'd like to do at this point is share with people what I think is the most important thing to understand about the differences in education in these two places, and that is that the differences in education aren't just a college-level issue, they begin at the elementary and middle school level. Many people claim that college education in Europe is "cheaper and better" than in America, and a lot of that is because of the way the elementary school systems are set up in both countries. It starts in the elementary schools and works its way up through college.
In the United States, we are very focused on everyone having an equal opportunity. We've passed things like the "No Child Left Behind" act that public schools are required to follow, and we do our best to make sure everyone in the country who is in the same grade is receiving a comparable education. In European schools, things are different. In Germany, for example, all kids start out going to the same type of school. Then, based on how well they do as they get older, they advance to different kinds of schools. The smarter kids go to smarter and more challenging schools. By the time they reach 17 or 18, a lot of the kids aren't even in a position to attend college. Those who are end up attending the best institutions the country has to offer.
Another difference is that in most European countries, families are given the choice on which schools to send their children to. In the United States, it's not like that. Kids attend public schools based on where they live, and it's somewhat difficult to get a variance that allows you to go to a school outside of your "boundaries." Allowing people the choice on where to send their kids to school creates more competition between schools to have a better education program to try to get more kids to attend that school. That's something the United States does not have.
These reasons, to me, are some of the most important to understanding why people think European college education is cheaper and better than the American alternative.
For anyone who's interested in reading more, here's a link that talks a little bit more about the issue I've just covered: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=1500338&page=3