Thomas Friedman thinks America doesn't educate enough native students
through graduate school. He claims that the lack of native-born Ph.D
students shows this trend.
I must respectfully disagree. American-born students don't go to
graduate school because they know what's good for their wallet. A
report by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that, in
the 2004-2005 school year, 75% of full-time, first-time undergraduate
students at 4-year institutions (also known as college kids) had
financial aid of some sort. Now that the federal government has cut
back on grants and scholarships, the most common financial aid is the
So with three-quarters of college students in college on someone else's
dime, should it surprise anyone that they want to join the job market
and make money immediately after school? When you have loan payments
due each month, going back to graduate school for a tiny stipend and an
academic career track simply looks repulsive.
American students are not stupid or uneducated, they simply know what's
good for them.
But foreign students receive all kinds of scholarships not open to
native-born Americans (search CollegeBoard.com if unsure). They also
find that going to graduate school brings them more respect and a higher
income back home than returning with merely a bachelor's degree, and
they find that graduate school provides a good road to stay here if they
so wish. So most graduate students come from abroad.
Can we get more American-born students in graduate school? Yes. We
just need to lower the economic cost of graduate and/or undergraduate
education. Therefore, I propose the establishment of a charitable
nonprofit organization dedicated to providing scholarships to science
and engineering undergraduates on the basis of "more money for better
grades", starting at nothing for F's and scaling up to full tuition for A's.
I would proudly donate to such an organization.
With their educational funds back in their pockets, more science and
engineering students will have the ability to afford graduate school.
Even those who don't attend graduate school will swell the ranks of the
scientifically educated Americans.
-- Eli Z. Gottlieb