Bachelor’s Degree Bargain

To riff on a bestselling book title, everything I needed to know, I learned in undergrad.

At Arkansas State University, my humble alma mater, I received all the essential knowledge I needed to become a successful journalist. I also had the opportunity to serve as editor in chief of the student newspaper, work with many other talented students who are still professional writers and editors today, and — with only one exception — attend small classes taught by full-time professors, many of whom had recent real-world experience in their fields of study. What’s more, I got all this for a paltry $975 or less in tuition and most fees each semester.

It was a great  value, even in those days, and seems more of a steal when you consider the average annual in-state price tag for tuition and fees was $8,893 for public four-year institutions in 2013 according to The College Board.

All this doesn’t discount the value of my master’s degree from Columbia University in New York, where I learned how to physically and psychologically navigate life in the city, gained insights from some of the best reporters in the nation, landed a paid internship at Newsday, and was matched with a mentor who helped me get my first real job.

But I have no doubt that I would still be thriving as a professional reporter, writer, and teacher today if I had ended my educational career after earning my bachelor’s degree — and all for less than $1,000 a semester.


Free morgueFile Photo
Free morgueFile Photo

To read the college newspaper news story and editorial I wrote about tuition in 1995, please click here (and ignore the fact I use the words fewer and less interchangeably).

To hear Sen. Elizabeth Warren talk about the great undergraduate education she got for $50 a semester and how the American dream is 300 percent more expensive today than it was a generation ago, check out this CBS Sunday Morning interview.

To post your own thoughts about being a student, teacher, or both, respond to The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge.


13 thoughts on “Bachelor’s Degree Bargain

    1. That’s just what it cost to go to a second-string state college in Arkansas back in the mid 1990s. The education definitely was not second-string, though.

  1. Sadly here in the UK we seem to be getting more and more expensive. When I went back in 2000 I paid a maximum of £1000 a year, now that figure is above £9000.

  2. When I went to uni in the early 1980s, in Australia, there were no uni fees at all. Education was free. After I graduated the government introduced a Higher Education tax which wasn’t very much, but over the years it has increased to the point where a university education is unattainable for some. I will never understand why, when we need top quality doctors and teachers, the courses are so expensive that they spend the rest of their working lives paying back their debts. Shouldn’t we be training these people for free so that we get the best of the best?

  3. 300 times?really…here in my country :
    I started my tuition fee in IDR 450.000 per semester in 1995 and now new grad student should paid IDR 10 Mio per semester.

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