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    The un-American state of higher education in the US.

    HS Solie
    Sep 3, '12 3:29 PM EST

    Welcome to my new blog!  I originally created this blog last year in order to provide a glimpse into the world of Taubman College at the University of Michigan and the life of a graduate student in the program.  While I thoroughly enjoyed reporting on all the “happenings” here at UofM, for a variety of reasons I feel that now is the time to transition to a new format.  While still periodically providing a view into the life of graduate school here at Taubman College, this blog will now focus primarily on my efforts as both a student and entrepreneur as I move into my last year of architecture school and begin to look toward the future.  The exciting yet difficult transition from student to professional will be at the heart of this blog.



    Disclaimers aside, let me end my school blog career with a “walk-off” rant on higher education:

    As I move into my last year of graduate school, the realities of what I have gotten myself into, i.e. student loans, is turning my day dreaming into nightmares.  Before I continue let me just say that I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into when I started grad school at UofM and have received an amazing education while being here.  This post is not meant to continue the endless amount of Archinect threads about how depressing it is to be an architecture graduate with debt, nor hammer any one particular institution, but simply to shed light on an injustice that I see.

    My claim is this, what institutions of higher education, and the educational system in general, put students through and the debts they must incur simply to pursue their educational path dabbles on the line of un-American.  The pursuit of excellence and the will to become the best possible version of ourselves are at the heart of the “American Dream.”  Yet the endless obstacles and hoops put in front of anyone trying to pursue this path undermines everything this county stands for.  Education is obviously a much debated subject in our culture, and not wanting to take on all the issues and legalities involved, I will use this post to zero in on one specific issue.

    My claim that higher education should be taken in front of the House on Un-American Activities Committee is based on the insane disproportion in the amount of tuition/fees that students pay for the same exact education.  In my program here at UofM I am paying 2x-3x as much as other students for the exact same product.  While issues of favoritism, elitism and school politics are serious contributors, the majority of this is due to the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, which is almost exactly double.  There are so many un-American things going on here it is ridiculous.  Charging two people two different amounts for the same product sounds like something Paul Revere would have jumped on his horse and started yelling about. 

    One if by land, two if by sea…except we’ll need a 50k deposit on that second lamp.

    To separate students based on their where they live/grew up is highly un-American.  This isn’t the EU. The United States isn’t some loose association of independent countries held together with bubble gum and duct tape.  The United States is 1 country subdivided into 50 states, not the other way around and people (or students) should be treated the same in one state as they are in another.  Don’t worry Michigan, I won’t pull a Greece on you if you charge me in-state tuition.  (I am using my own experience at UofM as an example but this scenario would have surely been the same if I attended any school outside my home, the great state of Massachusetts).

    I know that there is an argument that state universities charge out-of-staters more so that they can subsidize in-state tuition and show favor to their residents, but that argument is straight dumb homie (#unnecessary Randy Moss reference).  I have lived and worked in Michigan for the past two summers and paid taxes to the state of Michigan for the past two summers.  It seems like states have no problem treating “out of Towner’s” as residents when it comes to taxes, but never when it comes to school tuition.




    [Insert bat flip]


    … Walk-off


    • watanabe

      "I know that there is an argument that state universities charge out-of-staters more so that they can subsidize in-state tuition and show favor to their residents"

      I believe it's because most "in-staters" had parents who paid taxes for 18 years which funds the institution. I've heard that the vast number of in state students subsidize scholarships for the "out-of-staters" the school wants to attract with dolladolla bills, but even that is probably not accurate.

      PS: the entire public school system in the states is based off a similar method, as most districts draw their funding from property taxes (IE: rich area = better tax base = better salaries for teachers/more supplies = good public schools) excepting some districts with busing etc. If/when you become a parent you'll enjoy all the "what school district are you in?" conversation that comes up all the time.

      Sep 4, 12 9:53 pm  · 

      My high school was in the 'burbs outside Boston and had an amazing program which brought in inner city / underprivileged students from all over the city.  It was a great way to mix up the diversity of the school and give opportunities to a wider range of kids.   I can tell you first hand that this program did not negatively effect my education at all.

      I've felt that this is the attitude higher ed institutions should have. The wider variety of students from different places/backgrounds the better diversity the school has and with that comes fresh and new ideas.  However, crushing anyone that did not grow up with a view of the university in their bedroom window through cost hikes undermines the ability for diversity.

      And in response to your first statement about "in-staters" paying taxes for many years, less than 17% of the my universities budget comes from state support.  

      So there that is....

      Sep 5, 12 11:41 am  · 

      The United States isn’t some loose association of independent countries held together with bubble gum and duct tape.

      It often is as laws, regulations, and taxes vary wildly from state to state. 

      Aug 15, 19 7:40 am  · 

      grad student logic isn't the best logic


      HS Sollie,

      There isn't much difference between the federation of states which is the United States and the Confederation of states which is what this country was at the very beginning after the Declaration of Independence and the initial days of our formation as well as what Confederacy is when we talk about the Civil War. It wasn't all about the slave issue even though that was one major political issue of the times. Each state is independent. The EU is closer to a Confederacy in the degree of independence of each member state of that union. Confederations and Federations are both unions of member states but there is differences as to the degree of independence. 

      Each state has a certain degree of independence or autonomy. That is why there is are state governors (equivalent to the President) within the individual states in terms of the head of the executive branch of state government. Then you have a State "congress" which we often call the State Legislature which is the legislative branch of government of the State. Then you have the State Supreme Court. So in many regards each state is modeled in many ways to the way the national government is modeled as far as governmental structuring. 

      In the Confederate system, the central government system is weaker while the Federal system has a stronger central government system. In the Confederate system, each state will have authority to make international treaties but not in the Federal system which is more or less what the U.S. is. Basically a union of sovereign states which is what the EU is.... a union of sovereign states. The difference is with the U.S., the individual member states are to some extent subordinate to the federal law within the confines of the U.S. Constitution and certain matters are exclusively by subject matter under the authority of the Federal government not that of the individual states within.

      However, there is still a lot of autonomy and independence each state has on many matters that the Federal government does not have jurisdiction over. There is that regular on-going political battles over federal vs. state rights that will continue to be a political reality well into the future long after we are dead as long as the country exists.

      Oct 19, 19 3:56 pm  · 

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About this Blog

I am a graduate student and an entrepreneur at the University of Michigan Taubman College where my studies are focused on leveraging design ideas across multiple scales and platforms. Meeting at the intersection between design, tectonics and fabrication, I am continually exploring how a design idea can navigate complex material and production systems and evolve into fully realized architectural artifacts.

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