Background: The Maryland State Legislature is planning budget cuts and is slashing major funding for the University of Maryland system — this would translate into a tuition hike for in-state students and see their bills inflating by up to 10% come the next academic year. While this has generated considerable protest, I argue otherwise.
As I’m writing this piece on one of the McKeldin library computers, there is a large student protest going on outside the library. News broadcast crews are holding their cameras and interviewing people, passionate students are spreading the message of protest, and there is general spirit of revolt. No one seems to like the idea that their tuition bills might inflate by 10% come Fall.
But the in-state tuition hike might be just the blessing in disguise we have been waiting for. What is known as the “Chivas Regal” effect in higher education circles could, in turn, help raise the overall quality of our dear institution. After all, what determines the quality of any college? Education? Course materials? Not really. It’s the people, the students: You and I. We, as students, influence the quality and prestige of our school. If we are hard working, and have the hunger to learn, it will reflect well on the school.
But you may furiously (if you’re one of those being affected) wonder, “Nonsense! How will a tuition hike raise the quality of the student body?” It’s not as far-fetched as it may appear on first glance. An increase in tuition would indirectly serve the following purposes:
First, it will put the majority of us out of our comfort zones, at least financially, in that we would now have to pay a significantly extra amount of money for our education. This would certainly instill the need to work harder, perhaps even graduate earlier or take up a double major or minor, to obtain more value for money.
Second, it will force the non-serious students—and let’s admit it, we have a few of them here in College Park—to make a decision: either continue with school and pay a significantly higher cost—or leave. Crudely put, those who leave (or are weeded out) will naturally enhance the quality of the overall student body. Those who stay, now with renewed commitment (to take more out of the extra cost), will also enhance that quality.
These positive, even though bitter, effects will serve as catalyst to the policies of the current university administration to elevate the reputation of our school. True, there are many genuine students for whom the increase in price will be unnecessary. Not everyone wins in controversial deals—especially if the transfer of money is involved. But a 10% increase is still modest given the benefits it will translate in the improved quality of the student body.
The harder we work, the better our quality as a whole student body, the better the quality of our college. It’s not as bad as it seems.