The answer to America’s biggest problems lies with state schools and the graduates these institutions churn out.
Higher education in the U.S. has long been synonymous with success. A college degree (or two or three) means that a citizen is an expert in a given field. As America has thousands of higher education institutions (second only to India), the country can produce multitudes of highly educated experts to solve our most pressing issues. It is state schools — mega-institutions with huge student populations funded by substantial taxpayer money — that are at the forefront of tackling today’s healthcare, technology, business, security, and social issues. Aside from the “bang for the buck” value state schools supply, their graduates can better help our country’s many diverse sectors, more so then their private school counterparts.
With the ever-growing cost of college tuition, major state universities remain relatively affordable. In terms of tuition, a public university like the University of Michigan is more than half of the cost of a private school like Harvard University. Moreover, Michigan retains an academic rapport on equal terms with the likes of the Ivy League. In terms of location, state universities are also in more affordable places to live. For example, cost of living in Tuscaloosa, Ala., home to the University of Alabama, is 150% less expensive than Washington, D.C., home to private institutions like Georgetown University.
But, there are more far-reaching benefits of state schools. These institutions typically house major research facilities that focus on health care, science, and technologies, and support experts capable of handling challenging problems on both the local and national levels. While private institutions may hold renowned research facilities of their own — like Princeton’s University Medical Center — these facilities fail to make a significant impact outside of their immediate proximity. The University of Kentucky’s oncology center is much better equipped and much more successful at treating Kentucky’s extensive lung cancer problem than Princeton, since they are able to better respond to the community in which they operate. While private institutions are reliant only on donations to fund their research, public research institutions can not only call on private funds, but also on public monies.
Public institutions are also able to churn out business leaders who achieve statures among the elite alumni of private schools. Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is a University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate. The CEOs of Walmart, Intel, and Accenture are all state school graduates. More so, these leaders also spread their wealth to areas of the country which do not typically see investment from multi-billionaires. While most private school graduates would likely immigrate to metropolitan areas like New York City or San Francisco, graduates of state schools have moved their companies elsewhere. Buffet’s Hathaway remains in Omaha, Nebraska, and Walmart is based in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Furthermore, public schools strive to be more inclusive, drawing from a multitude of backgrounds within society, providing education opportunities to individuals of all walks. These individuals also have the ability to choose from more career options. State schools have ROTC programs which funnel bright individuals into our armed service to be leaders in American defense. Private institutions have typically been against ROTC programs, alienating a swath of the population.
Public institutions are cheap, but remain on par with private schools. State school graduates are leaders in their respective fields and are better able to engage the many corners of American society.
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