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Keeping a Sense of Perspective on College Life

By Shailagh Murray
LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Sen. Barack Obama has a vision, and it extends well beyond health care and Iraq. It includes parenting (turn off the TV and video games). And eating habits (no cold Popeye's for breakfast). And now, dorm life.

At the end of a town-hall meeting tonight at Jefferson High School, a woman asked Obama about the high cost of higher education. Why does tuition keep going up?
The candidate ticked off the usual reasons, including a decline in state support for public universities and the usual management inefficiencies. But perhaps, he suggested, students had become a bit spoiled.

"There are a lot of students when they're shopping for colleges, they want to know, do you have a state of the art gym, or do you have a big screen TV in the dorm room? Or do you have tasty gourmet food in the cafeteria? So what happens is, a lot of schools feel like they have to compete on quality of life ... instead of instruction," Obama explained.

"When I want to college, I have to tell you, I assumed the food was going to be bad. Right? I assumed the dorms were going to be shabby, and they were," he said, as the crowd cheered. "The gym wasn't real good. We had some medicine balls in there."

But seriously, folks. "The point I'm making is that college is not king," Obama continued. "There are a lot of kids in China and India who are learning an awful lot of math and an awful lot of science with facilities that are a lot worse."

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 10, 2008; 10:01 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Next: Obama on Powell, Public Financing and Mark Penn

Comments

I am strong for Obama. Very strong and decided. But tuition increases are not paying for these amenities, or for wasteful administrations. Tuition is going up a little every year because health care costs and energy costs are going through the roof every year. These things kill higher education budgets the same way they kill business budgets and government budgets. These great dorms and other facilities are paid for by private donations that are restricted for those specific purposes and usually get named after the donor. Most schools do have to compete for students, and it is not the fault of colleges and universities that today's students want these amenities.

Posted by: Chouteau | April 11, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Plainsgal-I COULD be wrong, but as I understand it(Living in Texas), it does cover Enrollment. I understood it to mean that Children from Poorer Communities would have the support needed to fulfill their Education, by excelling among their peers.

I could be Mistaken. It might simply mean as you have stated, that Lil'Abner from Back-Woods High in East Texas, gets in with his SAT of 100, because Sally Mae and Jughead were behind him.

LOL!-Shame Lil'Abner got the Football Scholarship from Mack anyway! ;~)

Posted by: RAT-The | April 11, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Response to RAT-The: I agree with the assessment of UT football coaches. The "School for Football Pros" should be a privately run athletic farm, not a part of any university. We need a return of the college athlete program designed for students of academia. A coach's salary [and benefits] should be no more than any other professor at the university earns.

You speculate about the Top 10 percent... It is an admission program. All students graduating with grades in the top 10% of a Texas Accredited High School will be granted admission to colleges of the Texas University System where they make application. That is it: that is all it is. Race, class, or ethnicity has nothing to do with that guarantee. Also, it makes no monitory commitment. It makes no promise of financial aid.

Posted by: Plainsgal | April 11, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Response to RAT-The: I agree with the assessment of UT football coaches. The "School for Football Pros" should be a privately run athletic farm, not a part of any university. We need a return of the college athlete program designed for students of academia. A coach's salary [and benefits] should be no more than any other professor at the university earns.

You speculate about the Top 10 percent... It is an admission program. All students graduating with grades in the top 10% of a Texas Accredited High School will be granted admission to colleges of the Texas University System where they make application. That is it: that is all it is. Race, class, or ethnicity has nothing to do with that guarantee. Also, it makes no monitory commitment. It makes no promise of financial aid.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 11, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Obama's refusal to coddle or pander is refreshing in a major politician. He speaks the sensible, unvarnished truth on so many subjects, including personal responsibility. This guy will be a fantastic president of the United States.

Posted by: dee | April 11, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

WE should remember that while many college students lead pampered existances, others do not. And all of them are going to come to adulthood in a world where it seems to them they are going to be shut out of living the lifestyle of their parents or that their parents dreamed.
We complain about the dumbing of education but we refuse to attack the problem at the source, which is the elementary level schools where more focus is on advanceing childen for social reasons than for their competance in the subjects. We pander to children and parents all through k-12 and we expect kids to know how to work and study and learn by themselves when they get to college. College becomes another social venue and college graduates turn out to be unacceptable to employers, the same way high school graduates were seen by employers not to be ready for more sophisticated jobs.
Our students arent to blame for their poor educations, seeking the easy way out is a sign of lack of maturity. We adults are. If Obama speaks sense, I doubt if he is going to make much headway with parents who want priviledges for their children, nor with parents who fight to keep their child from remedial courses, even if needed, because of the social stigma. Some need to stay after school for extra lesson, and they are the parents.

Posted by: nclwtk | April 11, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

This Rat-the guy offers absolutely no value to these forums. It is fine if you're against Obama, or against Clinton, or against McCain. But his illiterate, nonsensical drivel is unreadable (what, exactly, is your point, sir?)

Lonewacko: the DREAM Act is a sensible approach. Immigration laws should be about giving people an earned path towards Citizenship, or a finite (and legal) period of time in which to work or attend school in the United States. The DREAM Act gives these children of illegal immigrants an opportunity to earn Citizenship. That's what the country is all about.

http://dreamact.info/

As for Obama...I agree with the previous poster. The man just talks sensible policy.

Posted by: Q | April 11, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I think he said "college is not camp."

Posted by: Mike | April 11, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Americans, as Obama points out correctly, are the most spoiled, softest, most obese bunch of lazy slobs in the world. Tell these High School kids to shut up, turn off their I-Pods and study. Tell these college kids to turn off the Hi-Def TV and study. Tell the slobbering, wide load parents to get up off the couch, put away the potato chips and take a walk through the neighborhood. I am sick to death from hearing about how tough Americans have it. This nation consumes as though tomorrow will never come. The fat rolls on the bellys of Americans are disgusting and reflect the truth no one will admit to.
Reverend Wright was Right - The chickens are coming home to roost - only for the piggish Americans, it is Kentucky Fried Chickens with Extra mashed potatoes and double fries. Shut up and study or we will be buried alive!

Posted by: hartman_john | April 11, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Good job Obama! Now can we focus on why we are going to college in the first place?
Maybe we are too spoilt after all.

Posted by: Fatai | April 11, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Eagle Clan | April 11, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

What comes across over and over with Obama is that he is a very sensible person. Stay calm. Focus on what's important. That's the whole game.

Posted by: THS | April 11, 2008 2:28 AM | Report abuse

.

HILLARY CLINTON VOTED FOR THE WAR

MILLIONS of people around the world (including the U.S.) protested against invading Iraq.

The pope protested againt the invading Iraq.

In every major city in the world, several millions of people protested against invading Iraq.

Yet, Hillary voted to invade Iraq

there is no excuse

She knew what she was doing.

Now more than a million people are dead. More than 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed and many, many more are horribly wounded. Because of this war, the U.S. is bankrupt.

Clinton saying she's sorry isn't enough

I notice that Chelsea isn't fighing in Iraq

.

Posted by: kc | April 11, 2008 2:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama is right on the money here and it goes for elementary and high schools too. If we gave our teachers back the ability to take charge of the classroom again (I'm not talking corporal punishment just the ability to discipline students) and if we gave them quality educational materials, they'd learn a lot more than they do now with olympic-sized swimming pools, planetariums, professional quality football fields and cafeterias that serve gourmet food (yes, our local high school has all of these)--But the textbooks they use--not what I would call the highest quality. It's like actually learning something is an afterthought.

Posted by: Sueb2 | April 11, 2008 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Actually Obasama, it MIGHT be that Universities and colleges are paying ADMINISTRATORS more than we pay YOU!

Cripes, back in the Early Nineties The Dean of the BIGGEST California Party School, SDSU was making SEVERAL Hundred Thousand a Year!

At UT, Coach Mack Brown-Nose makes MILLIONS! :-o

WASTE! Un-Adulterated WASTE!

THEN, in Texas, there is a Top 10% Clause. Guess who pays for those? :-(

But hey! Suck-up those gullible Artificial World Dwelling College Children there Barack Hussein!

They are soooo Buzzed, they vote for anyone close to their age that talks about drugs!

Even if they are like you, and are now part of the Legal System BLOCKING Regulation and real Control! ;~) LOL "Controlled Substances" What an Oxymoron! ;-D

Posted by: RAT-The | April 10, 2008 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Lonewacko-- you can't be so heartless as to punish the innocent children of illegal immigrants by denying them anything beyond a high school degree? I think college resources should be given to all children. We can only hope John McCain loses in November so we can repeal those upper-class welfare tax cuts for the rich and fund much needed improvements in health care and education.

Posted by: Tetris | April 10, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I realize the source, but it might be helpful to go beyond simply telling us what he said. For instance, a real reporter might point out that Obama supports the DREAMAct, an explicitly anti-American bill that lets illegal aliens take college resources from U.S. citizens.

In case the WaPo decides to ever do anything beyond promotion, they might want to ask Obama why he supports a bill that would cause many U.S. citizens to be deprived of college educations.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | April 10, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I am printing this and giving it to my students! It is about time that we have a president that could talk clearly about these issues. Said that, however, we should point out that Obama went to colleges with pretty good facilities. I do not think he knows, like I do, what is to attend a college with a run-down gym, and cafeteria food that not even my dog would eat. Nevertheless, the point is eloquently made: suck up, and work those books hard!

Posted by: Hidalgo | April 10, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

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