Suppose you hire a plumber to fix a leak. You pay him for his work and he leaves. A year later he calls back and asks if you would consider giving him additional money because you continue to get benefits from the repairs. In addition, he argues, you could help subsidize future customers that would otherwise not be able to pay for his services. Would that seem appropriate?

Now imagine he calls back every few months for the rest of your life, asking the same frickin' question every time. Would you be okay with that practice?

Private colleges do this sort of thing all the time and somehow it seems okay. It makes me wonder what-the-hell kind of brainwashing goes on in those institutions.

I have an internal conflict when my alma mater, Hartwick College, asks for money. On one hand I feel a strong, irrational impulse to give, just as they somehow programmed me to feel. On the other hand, my degree was in economics, so the rationally trained part of my brain says paying twice for a service that was rendered once is irrational. But I'm glad the school pumped out lots of psychology, nursing, and sociology majors to donate money and keep the college afloat. I'd hate to have an economics degree from a college that went out of business.
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+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 19, 2009
I think some of the folks here have general misunderstanding of how donating to a University works. When you donate to the general "alumni fund" that usually goes to alumni related matters, from tailgates before football games to alumni career fairs. If you donate to the atheletic association, you're helping the school buy new jerseys and brandish new mega-stadiums. You can absolutely control where you're money goes and to what purpose. If you want to donate to the psychology program for example, call up their main office and ask how to do it! Its America...ANYONE will take your money if you ask them to!
Mar 19, 2009
My college has changed its name (twice), changed its mascot, and removed artwork from the campus that references the previous name and mascot under the guise of being politically correct. Now explain to me why I should feel any connection to the school, much less give my hard earned money to the alumni association?
Mar 19, 2009
such an economics major, Scott.

Completing a degree at an educational institution is a special rite of passage. Aside from the education you got there, there was a process you underwent which was unique to that institution. the idea is: you valued that enough to want to contribute to its continued existence- your good will in the form of your money shall, perhaps, help keep the doors open for others (who wisely opted -like you! - to go there.)

it's not as if you can get that kind of experience just anywhere, from any plumber or electrician who shows up and, for a meager sum of money (compared to a college education) repairs something.

your take on this is terribly cold and robotic. I work with a very chatty libertarian who is prone to go on in his finest bombastic rhetoric about how our state is wasting money on our public transit system, etc. It's a lot like listening to Lt. Commander Data. The view of the world from an non-human entity.

Now, back to reality: yeah, it's annoying when your college hits you up like they all do, but guess what? The recycle bin works just the same for that slice of paper as any other.
Mar 19, 2009
I think people give money because of:

A: people become institutionalized at college and thus feel a connection
B: it's the best years of some people's lives
C: fed a line of the history of school spirit

I hated how my university treated the students when I was there and I still hate how they are treating them. So if they ever call, they'll got told no. Although they make students work the lines so I'll be nice about it.
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 19, 2009
No, you are wrong. Its not about you and the education to fix your leaky brain. It is about "paying it forward." Because when you arrive on campus as some clueless dweeb, you notice, "hey, somebody built all these buildings, and hired all these professors and planted all this grass and built all these dorms. I don't remember doing this, so maybe some grizzled old farts did this so that I could have a chance to go to college. These grizzled old farts did it INSTEAD of spending ALL of their money on lap dances and high powered fishing boats (maybe just some went for that). So, if and when that idea sinks in, the follow on idea is "hey, maybe when I am a grizzled old fart, I will do a good thing and pass along a few shekels so that some other kids have some chance to fix their brain and get educated. Its a glorious thing, I have been giving to my alma matter every year, this will be year #33 for me.
Mar 19, 2009
Many people offer their college degrees as personal value indicators to be measured by others (i.e. listing your degree on your resume). In this regard, your degree from any college program is only as good as the current reputation of that college program. If the reputation of your previous college goes up, the value of your degree goes up. If the reputation goes down, your degree loses value.

Imagine you graduated with a business degree 20 years ago. At the time, your college was ranked #100 in the nation. If that college were ranked #1 in the country today, everyone credits you as having graduated from the best business college in the country.

To the extent that you want an external audience to judge you based on your affiliation with an institution, it's in your best interest to ensure the reputation of that institution continues to improve.

People don't judge themselves or others by their plumber.
Mar 19, 2009
That's a nearly perfect analogy for copyright law too. Except we're not asked, they attempt to enforce it.
Mar 19, 2009
So I take it you don't make any charitable donations at all? The universities aren't asking you to pay again for services rendered; they're asking that you, as a believer in the value of higher education, help them provide a valuable service to people who need it.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 19, 2009
About a year or two after I graduated, the college at the university I graduated from was RENAMED after some old fart who gave the school FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS. The very next month I started getting requests for money, somehow trying to sell me on the idea that being an alumni of the newly endowed and renamed college somehow obligated me to support future students' education there. Exsqueeze me??? How about sending me a fricken dividend or something. Pfffft.
Mar 19, 2009
I think the rationale is two-fold:
1) Universities are non-profit, so it's a little different than the plumber scenario.
2) The present-day reputation of the university may affect your life, so you continue to have a vested interest in the university's continued solvency (the equivalent would be if the plumber fixed your sink in such a way that only he could repair it, so you needed to keep paying him money so he wouldn't go out of business so your sink could be repaired again some day if you need it).
Mar 19, 2009
I went to a state university and didn't get a nickel from them. I paid about 2/3 of my costs, my parents the other 1/3. I hadn't even graduated, I was still a week or so away and already the alumni association was hitting me up saying more or less "thanks to us you can write your own ticket so don't be a selfish pr***, donate some of that money to us." Gee guys, I graduated during a recession, had only one job offer which was one more than many of my friends. You didn't do a damn thing for me and I like to think it was my own hard work that got me where I am and not the name of the institution on my diploma.

I have NEVER given them my change of address, but they manage to keep finding me. I have never sent them a dime. You would think they would just give up.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 19, 2009
I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that an economics degree from a college that went bankrupt would not be so good.

The value of your degree depends (in part) on the institution that gave it to you. Rightly or wrongly, a Harvard econ degree is seen as more valuable than a Hartwick econ degree. And what's the difference between them? Largely that Harvard has more money.

The more money you give, the more the value of your degree rises. Of course, the value of all of the freeloaders who didn't give any more rises too.
Mar 19, 2009
I solve this problem but not making enough money for them to care about me. If they ever do contact me it's via snail mail which is very easily thrown out with the rest of the junk mail. And if they ever did call me I think I would laugh at them. While I do get use out of the degree I earned there I really never cared for the school. They just didn't do anything that would make me feel any kind of loyalty towards them.
Mar 19, 2009
I get solicited by my alma mater, UCLA. I also get solicited by colleges my kids attend. It's annoying but not completely irrational. It carries the general idea that we are contributing to the improvement of our society. It probably needs to be more focused. Companies fund employee education presumably because they expect improved employee performance. Maybe I could invest in one or more students and then be paid back over several years. The big flaw, especially right now, is this sounds too much like the mortgage packages that turned out so badly.
Mar 19, 2009
The THEORY is that the education you recieved for the price that you paid was only possible because someone else, somewhere, somewhen, gave money to your school, and therby reduced YOUR cost.

It's as if when the plumber came out, he said, "Look, I could charge you a lot more, but I have a special fund for the Plumbing Impaired that will cut my bill." and then calls you up every year to see if you no longer consider yourself "Plumbing Impaired" and want to help out others like you were when you needed the help.

Like I said, that's the theory. But when you do the math, like multiply Tuition times Students, divide by Student:Teacher ratio, and then divide by, say, 4, to come up with what should result in the Professor's annual salary, (assuming that the reaming 75% goes to physical plant, library book purrchases, etc.) you find that things don't quite add up. Not being in the College business, I don't know where the problem lies, but something smells fishy.

Add in the "Endowments", which is a pot of money that the school is supposed to just live off the Interest of (without touching the capital) and the aquarium odor grows.
Mar 19, 2009
I went to a university that raised funds by giving out large fines for violating rules, and then making it hard not to violate them. For instance, they had thousands more students than parking spaces, and would fine you for parking illegally. They would not release any information about the next semester's schedule, or tell you when the schedule would be released, or announce it anywhere when it was released; you had to stop by the registrar's office every week and check. If you didn't register for classes within 2 weeks of its release, you were fined.

I once spent my last dollar paying about $200 of these fines. I included a note, saying, "If you want me to ever donate money to this university, return this check." They didn't. And I haven't.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 19, 2009
The scariest part is how well your alma mater can keep track of you. After getting my bachelors degree I moved about once a year as I found my career grove. Total of five moves. Usually within a month of each move I would somehow get a donation letter in the mail. And not via mail forwarding mind you. A letter actually adressed to the new place. One time I got my first solicitation before I'd even bothered to change my drivers liscence address etc... The rational side of me keeps insisting that there is no way that they could possibly follow me that closely. none the less.....

0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 19, 2009
Private colleges? I'm a graduate of the University of Illinois, a public college, and I get these solicitations from the UI at Urbana-Champaign, the UI in general, the College of LAS, and the Alumni Association, several times a year, each. Of course, since this is a public school, they're also *already* getting my money every year through taxes.

I'd like the state to give the UI more money, so that I could afford to send my kids there. Barring that, I'll hold onto my potential donations and use those to pay for my kids to go some place affordable.
Mar 19, 2009
You've hit on a real sore spot for me. I (well, Me, my company and the VA) spend significant amounts of money for my degree, as an adult student, more than what a 'day' student would spend, and they continued to call me for donations for years. This while they spent a lot of money on new sport arenas and athletic programs. No moneys spent on the computers or labs necessary for my major. After I lit into them a couple of times (I know, it's not the person who makes the calls who's the problem) they stopped calling. Or maybe it's because I moved. If they spent the money in the areas where the adults get educated I might consider contributions, but if they have enough to spend millions on arenas and moneys to send folks to March Madness (yes UofMd!!) they can forget any money from me. Thanks for letting me vent!!
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