The average cost of a four-year college in the United States has doubled in the past 20 years. Currently, the cost is $35,000 per student per year when you include tuition, books, supplies, and living expenses.
If you are planning on paying for four years of university for your child, you are looking at bills totaling almost $150,000. If your child attends a private university or a school that’s out-of-state, those costs will be even higher.
Before you spend that kind of cash, you obviously need to know what you’re paying for. Touring a campus with your college-bound child is the best way to find out what a school has to offer. But what should you look for during your visit?
The tour guide is going to show you the highlights to sell you on tradition and excellence. But what you really should be looking at is how the school spends money. What facilities and programs are they investing in? What are they ignoring?
A recent viral photo showing the disparity at one university’s classroom versus its football locker room has sparked quite the debate online. It also shows a major issue with modern education–some universities are spending a ton of money in the wrong places.
Classroom Vs. Locker Room
A photo that was recently posted to Reddit went viral because it questioned one university’s approach to education. Instead of investing in learning facilities like classrooms, it looks like Louisiana Tech is putting all of its money into the football program.
The image shows a side-by-side comparison of an LA Tech classroom and the football team’s locker room. And the difference is quite jarring.
The classroom features a caved-in drop ceiling, several trash cans strategically positioned to catch the water falling from above, scuffed walls and tile floors, and a collection of ugly, mismatched old desks.
On the other side of the image is a pristine football locker room featuring state-of-the-art lighting and fixtures. And huge displays of the school’s logo and star players. The room honestly looks like it belongs to a billion-dollar sports franchise.
College Sports Are Big Business
While a tenured professor makes about $120,000 per year on average, some football coaches at those same universities are earning millions in salary and bonuses.
The universities that make up the “Power 5″—the five largest football conferences in America—generate more than $4 billion in revenue annually. So it makes sense that the football program would be an important investment. But what about the students who aren’t at these schools on a football scholarship, and are instead attending the university to get their degree?
College football programs are essentially the NFL farm system, making them a testing ground for future pro athletes. Which again, is fantastic for those few students. But shouldn’t the focus at a university be education?
Starting A Discussion
It’s not exactly clear when the classroom photo was taken, but there’s no doubt that many colleges and universities are prioritizing their sports facilities over their instructional spaces.
When this photo was shared on Twitter, a wider discussion began about how colleges across the country are spending money. As well as the state of their different facilities. One commenter shared an article about Oregon State’s $153 million stadium renovation and wrote, “My university’s spending over $100 million dollars in student tuition to update its football stadium. Meanwhile, buildings such as the one where the social science classes such as ethnic studies and anthropology are held have a roach problem, mold, and asbestos in the walls.”
One Reddit user said they toured LA Tech and had the exact same experience as the picture. “I took a tour of the school in the picture. Same. Exact. Thing. Look at our rock wall! But don’t pay too much attention to the old ass dorms. Those aren’t really important anyway… Sports!” the student wrote.
LA Tech Responds
In a statement to Newsweek, a Louisiana Tech spokesperson admitted that the classroom photo was taken at their campus. However, they insisted it wasn’t a fair representation of the quality of the school’s educational facilities.
“If you look at comments on the original and subsequent posts from members of our community, I am sure you can see the photo of this classroom is not an example of learning environments at Louisiana Tech University. We are currently working with a roofer on repairs on that building, but winter weather has been hampering progress.”
They went on to say that academic and athletic facilities “are funded in different ways.” With athletics receiving mostly private donations and self-generated funds. At the same time, the “academic building enhancements and repairs are largely funded through state appropriations.”
“We have also done significant deferred maintenance work across our campus recently and have more plans for the next year or two. We anticipate receiving state funds to renovate academic buildings this year,” the statement concluded.