Driven to debt

Grant Wold

On September 16, the Minnesota Daily ran a short article titled, “Minnesotans split on value of U ed.”  University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks was reported to have said that a 51 percent approval rating — on whether or not the University provides a good education — was not surprising. Bruininks’ claim was that, at face value, the cost of a University education is expensive. But, he said, if one looked deeper, one would see large amounts of financial aid being handed out and would be mistaken about the real cost of an education. Bruininks continues saying the University should do “a better job of educating the public about the actual cost of attendance.”
Why not just do a better job of educating your students? Then surveys might reflect the University’s worth.
The University has a strong recent history of public relations. In 2006, the University released its Driven to Discover ad campaign, a campaign designed to advertise the research done  here. In 2008, Driven to Discover was awarded a Gold Effie award for effectiveness in the marketing communications industry. The University also has the Golden Gopher Fast Application, a partially filled-out application sent, with waived fees, to select students based on standardized test scores and other factors.
Record application rates and record freshman class intelligence — at least on paper — are a result of these campaigns. The payoff for the University is a possible jump in rankings. The end result is a large disconnect in actual education versus advertised education.
To the undergraduates out there: How many professors have you had? How many graduate instructors? Spending the money would not be an issue if we were getting the education the money is worth, instead of a bought reputation of excellence.
Grant Wold, undergraduate student