“Ivory Tower”: The High Cost of Book-Learnin'

It's a tricky time to be a college student, between constantly rising tuition rates and a national student loan debt that's passed $1 trillion, and Andrew Rossi's documentary Ivory Tower doesn't sugarcoat the matter. Rossi demonstrates that it's not so much the cost of educating students that got colleges into this mess, but rather the competition among universities (especially the Ivy League) to build the biggest and flashiest buildings. Increasing hostility toward the very concept of government support for higher education doesn't help, traced back to then-Governor Ronald Reagan's position in the 1970s that the government “should not subsidize intellectual curiosity,” and his later run for president on the promise that he would dismantle the Department of Education. Meanwhile, the Millennials are criticized as being “entitled” for wanting an affordable, high-quality education when such things were available to previous generations as a matter of course; notably, when the historically free Cooper University announces that it will start charging for tuition, the students use Occupy Wall Street tactics, settling into the president's office. Ivory Tower doesn't offer easy solutions, but it does suggest that the critical-thinking skills necessary to solve this problem can be acquired in higher education … if only students could afford it.

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