$47,000 Alphabet Soup

By Yesac Roanoke

For $2.59, you can buy Campbell’s Healthy Chicken Alphabet Soup. At 18,000 times that cost, you can get Binghamton’s varietal, with half the letters.

A, W/O/C/J, F, G, H, L, M, B/Y/S, P, N.

As much as they enjoy arranging bwomhclapghjysn in their educational soup bowls, students must understand the true costs of these letters.

Four years at Binghamton University cost $200,000. I understand the checks we write total to about $20,000 a year, but that price only considers the accounting cost.

Tuition  $         6,470
Fees  $         2,511
Room & Board  $       13,820
Lost Wages  $       27,195
Economic Cost 1 year Undergraduate  $       49,996
Number of years in Undergraduate 4
Economic Cost total undergraduate  $     199,984

Lost wages is the largest cost of attending university. Every instant we spend in class or on campus, we could be earning money at a job back home. The estimated lost wages for a New York State university student is $27,195. I learned about lost wages in my introductory economics classes, which cost me $12,500.

Economic cost total undergraduate  $     199,984
Credit hours per semester 16
Total semesters 8
Cost per credit hour  $         1,562

With a benchmark cost per credit hour, we can easily calculate the true dollar value price of any class in Binghamton. For example, these nifty tables are courtesy of CQS 311, a $6,250 bargain! Let’s revisit the general education requirements costs. On average, Binghamton students enroll in seven four-credit GenEds (foreign language is mostly fulfilled upon entering) and one two-credit GenEd (health and wellness). Using the cost per credit multiplier, we find that the total economic costs for GenEds are $47,000—about equal to one year’s starting salary for a college graduate.

GenEds are expensive and many argue that their price far outweighs their benefits. The existing alphabet here in Binghamton isn’t going out anytime soon. The comprehensive General Education Curriculum mandates a broad and varied experience for every Binghamton student. The curriculum is rigid; GenEds are here to stay. I’ve exposed my belly to bwomhclapghjysn. In fact, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed most of my GenEd experiences. But, please, please, don’t add any more letters to this soup, the student body is full, seriously, put that ladle down, now.

1) There should be a mandatory cultural competency course as a General Education requirement for all Binghamton University students in order to be eligible for graduation.

Updated Student Demands, Students for Change, 3/16/2015

Oh… no.

A new, mandatory GenEd directly balloons tuition. Another four-credit class immediately bumps college costs up another $6,250. With undergraduate enrollment at 13,000, the demand inflicts an economic cost of $81,250,000 upon the student body. That’s just the dollar amount. Tack on emotional burden, the stress of another course, delayed graduations, and scheduling struggles to boot and the demand becomes very hard to justify. In fact, it’s near impossible to support. A cultural competency GenEd already exists.

“Pluralism courses consider three or more cultural groups in the United States – African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans”

Binghamton Comprehensive GenEd Curriculum

To continue the soup metaphor, I don’t think the student body wants a second helping.

Well-intentioned demands aren’t necessarily good ones. A second cultural competency GenEd letter (D for diversity? X for xenophobia?) would positively affect the student body. Unfortunately, the tremendous costs (remember, $81,250,000) absolutely dwarf any societal gain. The demanded course’s benefit is further belittled by its redundancy. The pluralism courses already handle cultural competency. The imbalance probably goes for most of the GenEd letters anyway. But those already exist; they’re mandated by the curriculum we accepted when we chose Binghamton as our school. Please, please, do not add another letter. We need to graduate on time to start earning back that $200,000 we’ve spent in the first place.



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