It was disheartening to read Edward L. Glaeser’s tender embrace of a flawed study by his Kennedy School colleagues at Harvard University in the Aug. 8 op-ed “Scholars hurt by quality of state colleges.” The study denounces the Commonwealth’s Adams Scholarship program for waiving tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for academically promising students, because some recipients take longer than four years to graduate.
Glaeser takes the study’s conclusion a step further by suggesting that the scholarships become vouchers so that students can also use them at the state’s private universities where, he thinks, they would be more likely to get their bachelor’s in four years. It is an easy argument for private colleges to make, but it’s also a cheap one. The vast majority of students at public universities and many private universities are taking more than four years to graduate for a variety of personal reasons. It’s a choice driven by individual circumstances.
The University of Massachusetts and state colleges are vastly cheaper to attend, and don’t have the financial resources that schools like Harvard and MIT have. And it’s an open secret that state funding is inadequate.
Yet UMass consistently manages to attract some of the greatest scientists and thinkers in the world for the benefit of its students. Nearly 65 percent of our graduates remain in the state. Try to imagine what kind of place the Commonwealth would be without the contributions they make.
Students at public and private universities are taking more than four years to graduate for a variety of personal reasons.