Paying For Prestige: Student Impressions Regarding Cost of Higher Education

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

Arthur Scarritt


This report argues that internalized perceptions and beliefs exists within current college students to take on the burdens of student-loan debt and other high-risk practices as a means to seek out higher education. The basis of this report is based upon conducted qualitative analysis including interpersonal interviews of current Boise State students, answering a set of predetermined questions regarding meritocracy, race, gender, and other topics students experience in everyday college life. I argue that these internalized beliefs regarding higher education’s role in preparing students for the workforce are the driving factor leading to students practicing the aforementioned high-risk actions. In other words, the vocationalization of higher education as it is witness by current college and university students lead to the justification of such behaviors. The internalization of beliefs regarding vocationalization is argued to be caused and sustained by a frame and three additional factors: Raising tuition and living costs in seeking higher education; Growing prestige in college degrees and certifications, due to an increase in overall cost and scarcity of success; and finally, a meritocratic belief existing in college students that justify the risk of high risk behaviors; and an internalized acceptance of the vocational practices of higher education. The cumulation of these factors is hypothesized to lead to the internalized beliefs regarding vocationalization practices within an average student’s college education.

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