Filling our history and literature classes with only affluent students means that we will rarely again turn out a Junot Diaz, an Alice Walker, an Irving Howe or a Sherman Alexie.
I’ve heard lots of reasons for why a students choose to go to specific colleges, but this is the first time I’ve heard someone say they chose to go to a school because they were trusted with priceless works of art to decorate their dorm rooms with (Oberlin College’s Art Rental program began in 1940 and allows students to borrow art for $5; students line up more than 22 hours in advance for this privilege). There is also a student who says he decided to stay at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. instead of transferring to one of the Ivies because Lawrence hosts The Great Midwest Trivia Contest, a 50-hour Internet-broadcast trivia event held every January. At William and Mary, students love the Raft Debates, in which professors pretend they’re stranded on a deserted island and argue why their discipline will save humanity (see this episode of This American Life). I chose my school mostly because it was affordable and had a good reputation, but if money weren’t an issue, I suppose I would have taken these kinds of campus traditions and offerings into account.
Here is a new tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that allows you to compare three colleges you are considering attending, and how much you might owe based on the amount of financial aid the school provides you. It looks like it’s actually useful!