The money-pit of Minnesota

Here’s your ID number, here’s a mountain of debt… let me get back to you on that education.

Ross Anderson

âÄúIf I were paying for this [expletive]âĦ IâÄôd be pissed,âÄù I recently jested to a friend I know to be drowning in college debt. She knows that her education isnâÄôt really worth the piece of paper itâÄôs printed on, a drama major with no acting ambitions. But she still continues to dig herself deeper and deeper in debt. âÄúWhy?âÄù I thought. I canâÄôt speak for her and I really canâÄôt understand her plight, because IâÄôm a veteran I am excused from the copious amounts of debt that usually accompanies an American education. Though, I do deal with the endless amounts of red tape produced by the VA and the state. Our institutions are failing us, particularly our biggest and most expensive ones like The University of Minnesota. Other than being exhausting and spirit-sucking, I have no idea what happened during my first week of school. I was on my bike a lot. I tallied three pedestrians hit, 16 crotch shots (most unexpected and some unwelcome) and endless run-ins with frightened, wide-eyed freshman. I also heard a lot freshman-bashing from cooler sophomores. Just like in the Army, newcomers are never very welcomed into established institutions, hence all the anti-freshmanism. This environment is not conducive to quality learning. I still donâÄôt have my bachelorâÄôs degree, but IâÄôm pretty sure that when a young mind is in constant fear and haste itâÄôs pretty hard to squeeze in âÄúeducation,âÄù or more aptly put, learning. This columnâÄôs suggestion to relieve the maddening, destructive congestion is to cut the school in half. In my own demented logic I see it fit to knock down half the buildings and chop-off at least three stories from our tallest buildings. ItâÄôs just a bit of wing-nut logic, founded in a belief in small government, which I know to be unwelcome in academia. But itâÄôs a simple formula I learned from AmericaâÄôs largest bureaucracy, the Army: the bigger the institution the worse it is at performing its designated task. In accordance to this formula, the U is one of the countryâÄôs worst educators. But we do have some cool, shiny new buildings. Another solution would be to remove the much-loathed freshman class. This would free up some sitting room in Coffman Union and lessen the collective tension that we all are forced to navigate. This proposal is not empty freshman-bashing, but a sincere suggestion for a more cost-effective education. If youâÄôre out there wandering aimlessly through these halls, completing what this university finds to be a âÄúgood liberal education,âÄù save yourself a lot of time and even more money, go to a community college and decide what your major is. I can almost hear all the unquestioning, lock-step students out there fuming about an attack on the institution they have dedicated their lives to, but the reality is, the U of M is too big, too distant, and too seemingly unconcerned with the over-stressed masses it is obliged to educate. It operates more as a corporation than a beacon of higher learning. This opinion is derived from an education that spans nearly a decade, across four different campuses, including online, distant-education; IâÄôve been all over the map, literally. But I havenâÄôt felt this much like a faceless number since I wore combat boots. IâÄôm not saying that our beloved school is completely useless. My friends in IT and the hard sciences seem satisfied. IâÄôm just saying that for the free-wheeling mind, time at this university amounts to nothing more than a hamster-wheel exercise. Ross Anderson welcomes comments at [email protected]