Letter to the UC student: Expect to pay more

Dear prospective applicant of the University of California class of 2014,

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A successful businessman? Lawyer? An engineer perhaps?

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

All solid choices, no doubt.

But before you answer, you should know that your decision will have a huge impact on your time at any of the 10 esteemed and nationally respected public campuses in our UC system.

Not so much in the sense that you’re probably thinking, though.

Obviously, deciding on a major is an important decision that will help guide you on your scholarly pursuits during your college years. In fact, you’ll probably go through no less than four different college preparation books in the time leading up to your first steps on campus, hoping to find a way to simplify the process. We get it.

But as important as your choice of major will be for obvious reasons, it’s an even bigger issue than you think because of tuition variation.

Let’s get real here. We at the UC system need money. California recently cut approximately $18 billion in funding for public schools and colleges.

Eighteen billion.

Do you know how many iPod nanos that would buy?

Because of this sizeable decrease in funding, we’ve had to raise tuition prices and let go of some of our well-respected faculty members. In fact, your older brothers and sisters have been quite vocal about their displeasure with these measures, standing next to their professors to skip out on their exorbitantly pricey classes to protest.

But mind you, this proud coalition of Golden State institutes of higher education won’t just stand pat and let this budget snafu ruin the quality learning experience of our students.

So we’ve found a new way that will help to offset the loss of state funding — y­­ou pay.

Just kidding. (But seriously, don’t decide to major in business or engineering.)

Look, we only want the best for our students, and upper-level business and engineering professors aren’t just a dime a dozen, nor do they cost a dozen dimes despite what their paltry paychecks may suggest. Therefore, we keep them, but wouldn’t need to do so if you weren’t so insistent on fulfilling some lifelong goal of being some flashy businessman or engineer. So if it’s anyone’s fault, it’s going to be yours.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “This doesn’t sound fair at all. Why should I have to pay more than my peers just because I want to pursue a difficult vocation?”

Just think of it as an investment toward your future. Many of you will already be paying a substantial amount of your tuition via financial aid. What’s another $900 or so? It’s like putting a feather on top of the straw that broke the camel’s back. Besides, you’ll be able to pay it back in no time, assuming that the job market makes an astronomical improvement by the time you graduate.

But don’t worry. If things don’t get any better soon, we’ll have an indiscriminate system of making all undergraduate majors pay extra fees.

Let’s try to make sense of it by relating it to some other situation.

Say you go to the ice cream store with a playmate of yours; you get a chocolate cone, and your friend gets a vanilla cone. They’re both the same basic ice cream cone, but because you chose chocolate, you have to pay more. Why? Because everyone knows that vanilla is the most boring ice cream flavor ever; you are more likely to be a livelier personality compared to your bland friend, and are at greater risk of getting injured and thus unable to repay the 50 extra cents for ice cream that you were charged.

Actually, I suppose that seems like a stretch.

So why should engineers and business students be singled out?

Because these professions have a proven track record of being able to provide recently graduate college students with a decent salary, unlike, say, video game design majors.

But don’t worry. If things don’t get any better soon, we’ll have an indiscriminate system of making all undergraduate majors pay extra fees.

Surely, this can’t be good news for anyone. With many college students taking longer than four years to graduate as it is, making you pay more for certain subjects only compounds the situation. What do you want us to do about it? We’ve been backed into a corner.

While the UC system comes out looking like the bad guy in this situation, we’re just making do with the remnants of a budget we have left.

Why then, should you think about coming into the University of California system?

Because above all, we still have one of the best public university systems in the country, even if “public” is more private than the words “public school” might imply. And though you may be scared off by such radical policies, it might not be long before they’re implemented all across the country. Take the opportunity to be a trendsetter.

Don’t think of this letter as a warning so much as an open invitation to mull over your options in the next decade.

Because there doesn’t seem to be any other defense other than complete transparency, we’ll just hope that honesty will allow you to overlook the glaring deficiencies in our education budget.

To us, you’re not just another number.

You’re a very tangible set of dollars and cents.


The UC system

Soojin Yoon is a junior majoring public relations. His column, “Boy Meets Word,” runs Thursdays.

3 replies
  1. .
    . says:

    Profanity is the parlance of the fool. Why curse when there is such a magnificent language with which to discourse.

    -Theodore Roosevelt.

  2. Your boss
    Your boss says:

    It’s so funny while pathetic that you’d even bother to waste your time to comment on an article that’s “nonsense.” Geez, I guess it struck a nerve with you because it must be true, Ivan. We Trojans don’t care what goes on at the U.C. schools, but the idiot who wrote this article apparently does. No, we don’t all dwell on the football culture. You’re just as stupid for thinking that from your lack of first-hand experience. That’s the 90s and prior, and besides, it’s a bonus to be part of a school with an elite football team.

    The “SC joke” manifests your lack of equanimity. Fight on there, Mr. “political activist hippy.” We got better things to do here at ‘SC, like pull the strings of capitalism so that servants like you can whine about the bleeding-heart liberal agendas they instill in you at Cal.

  3. The Proud UC Student Ivan Nicholas Bauhaus.
    The Proud UC Student Ivan Nicholas Bauhaus. says:

    Stumbling on your silly news page to see if it is centered around ideas OTHER than sports… I find this article.

    Is USC so insecure about its poor image in the educational and professional fronts, that the students have the need to write these pathetic excuses for excessive use of boring words and condescending attitudes of superiority?

    We the people of the University of California Berkeley are a proud people. We are a noble people. We take our educations seriously. If we the Golden Bears of the University of California, Berkeley, have the need to protest to show our power as a collective unit of five thousand strong in protest, does that not make us more human than the mere Trojan trying to look down upon us? Is civil activism not a way of speaking up for our beliefs? I am sorry that USC educates students to be intellectually numb, but my mind is not something to be suppressed. Keep talking away with your silly little remarks: my education might be filled with 500 student auditoriums, lack of commodities, but remember this: a degree from UC Berkeley will always be looked at with higher regard and value than one from USC.

    We at UC Berkeley boast a community of students-scholars, socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged alike, who are not afraid to raise our voices. We support our professors who decide to take in salaries below what the private sector offers – because we respect and honor them. We do this because we know they teach at our universities, not for the economic aspect, but because they see the dynamic found in our UC campus not easily replicated by schools such as USC or others across our bay for that matter. If we decide to walk out of our classes in solidarity with our professors, it is not to merely “skip.” We took a stand for our beliefs. One day of material put aside in class will not jeopardize our academic standings, nor will it be (sadly for you Trojans) consequential enough to change our position in the educational front, and place USC above. Therefore, the next time you try to create an analogy about vanilla and chocolate, try to do your research. Some people like vanilla and some prefer chocolate. If you wish to not pay for the UC Berkeley chocolate – fine go to the USC ice cream parlor… BUT, when that chocolate from the ice cream parlor tastes cheap and you realize they ripped you off by filling you with commodities such as a superficially pleasant site not that core of amazingly rich chocolate available at UC Berkeley, remember you have no one but yourself to blame.

    The budget cuts have not deterred the exchange of ideas going on between us – the students and the professors – if anything: it has brought us together in plight. If I could have my Berkeley education for what I have to pay and push through… or have a free education at USC… you know I’d go to Berkeley for the academic challenge USC will never come close to replicating.

    Fight on young Trojans, immerse yourselves into the football culture of your school. After all, what else is there to do in USC? I would much rather be known for being on reuters.com for a five thousand strong march, than on the New York Times for being and intellectually numb football school. If anything, those stimulating minds found in your university are there because of the financial incentive – but never because of the education available. If your school is as amazing and superior as you think it is, that you have to talk down about my educational institution, then why have some of your professors migrated to Berkeley? If Berkeley is as bad as you make it to be, why do we have professors from Columbia vying for spots in the faculty? In short, I leave you with these words… What is USC? Nothing but football and intellectually unstimulated minds. What is the University of California, Berkeley? A place to push your mind into the next level of intellectualism.

    A friend once told me this joke: What do a condom and a degree from SC have in common?… You’re better off without one.

    Somewhere along the lines… This article makes me agree with the joke.

    Long live Troy.

    Your Civil Servant,


    I challenge you to not remove this post if you Trojans are ready to man up to the truth.

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