Demand more for your tuition from UI

BY CHRIS STEINKE | JUNE 14, 2012 6:30 AM

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It never quite hit me how little I was getting out of the University of Iowa until I was just about graduated. I mean, I got a college degree, so there's that — but compared with the amount my family was paying the university, was I really getting my money's worth?

Nope. Not even close.

But here, at this point in logic, where many would point their grubby finger at the university and Board of Regents as the only sources of their dismal return on investment, I recognize that I, too, am to blame.

When did I fully realize this? After I taught myself the foundations of web-development XHTML syntax, CSS formatting, and even some JavaScript — about an entire UI semesters' worth of material — in about two weeks.

Of course, I wasn't astounded by these accomplishments. I was basically learning at this rapid-fire pace my entire college career, if for only three or four weeks out of the year.

Here's a quick rundown of how I (and many, many UI students) go about a given semester.

Week One: Syllabus week. No need to go to class, probably.

Week Two: All right, this is the semester I'm actually going to read when the reading's due and learn my material at the intended pace. So, let's get to reading.

Week Three: I'll do this week's reading next week.

Weeks Four through Third-To-Last: F*ck it! I'm going to go out four times a week, never study, and dominate class discussion whenever the class isn't discussing the reading.

Last Two Weeks: Learn the material.

I realize not every UI student has the privilege of a 99th-ranked Tippie College of Business workload. But for those of us that do, it's a pretty sweet deal — if you don't care whether you actually learn all that much.

So, yes, even though the minimum requirements don't get you the education you're paying for, there are many resources the university provides that can help bridge the gap. I learned information far more valuable in the eyes of the employer — web building — through a resource provided by UI. It's called Lynda, and it's pretty sweet.

With Lynda, you can learn more from a video in four hours than you did in four months from some overpaid, under-worked, marketing professor's class.

On Wednesday morning — you know, a time when most people are working — I tried to get a hold of a UI marketing professor to gauge exactly how overpaid they are, but of course, nobody was working, so nobody answered my calls. I've been writing for The Daily Iowan for a year and a half now, and this is marked the first time I put calls into five different faculty members, left five voice mails, and received no response all day, not even an "Oh, I'm actually doing something completely made up right now, so I'll call you back later, but not really."

Sure, it is summer, when the living's easy, but the average salary of the professors I called is over $156,000. And they aren't around on a Wednesday? Were they all hard at work teaching summer class? Chances are: No. Considering they only teach about eight hours a week during the normal school year, let alone on a nice sunny summer day in Iowa City.

And everybody wonders why tuition's out of control. How many grossly overpaid professors do public universities need? Why do we have too many college professors and not enough middle-school teachers? Because the former is a cake-ass job, and they get paid four times as much. Just sit back, get seduced by textbook manufacturers, plan out 25 PowerPoints, have a general idea of what you're talking about, and you're basically good for the next four or five years.

Students can get more out of the money they're overpaying, and universities can do more to make an ever-necessary quality college education more accessible to mainstream America.

Stop throwing your hands up, and start asking more out of your university. 

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