Trey Achterhoff Argument 2 Causal Argument Section HB—McGough December 4, 2013 The Draw of “Cy” During the fall

season of every year, hundreds of thousands of wide-eyed young adults step anxiously onto college campuses across the nation in anticipation of the next stage of life before them. All types of people embark on a journey to become more educated in a specific area of study. These students all have very different reasons for choosing the respective college or university that they are attending. Even though the total number of those seeking higher education is increasing dramatically, certain colleges and universities are enjoying extreme rises in enrollment while others’ enrollments are staying the same or even decreasing. Iowa State University is one of the former. It is likely that the Cyclone population is increasing so quickly due to Iowa State offering an exciting, valuable education at an affordable cost. Those of you reading this may wonder why college should even be on your radar screen. At the moment all you are worried about is making it through high school and whether Susie Q will go to the Spring Fling Dance with you. The college decision will come faster than you think, so you should at least begin to think about what you want from your college experience. I chose to attend Iowa State because of many of the reasons I will talk about in this essay. While I personally feel each and every one of you should choose Iowa State, reading this essay will at least give you a sense of some of the things you should consider when making your college decision. For nearly every student entering college, money is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding which college to attend. This is increasingly becoming a key factor due to the rising cost of higher education. Tuition costs are growing much faster than the rate of inflation, and this is causing many students to try to find more affordable ways to earn their degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the last ten years, when adjusted for inflation, the price of a college education has risen by over thirty percent. The number one way college students are attempting to counter this larger price tag is by attending public institutions rather than their private counter parts. The difference in the annual cost of public and private colleges can be seen below (Figure 1, Page 2). Based on these statistics, it is obvious why so many students are now choosing to attend public institutions, especially those in their own state. According to Statistic Brain, over 6.8 million students are enrolled in public four year institutions while only just over 4.1 million are enrolled in private four year institutions. Not only is enrollment higher in public institutions, but so is growth. The National Center for Education Statistics states that, “Between 2000 and 2009, undergraduate enrollment at private nonprofit institutions increased by 17 percent, and undergraduate enrollment at public institutions increased by 27 percent.” With a bill almost a third of the size of private colleges, attending an in-state public college is the only viable option for many students. Perhaps this is part of the reason Iowa State is enjoying such a large increase in enrollment.

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Figure 1: This picture shows exactly where your hard earned money is going at college.
Source: “Education Plan” on

Some would argue that it is not the price tag of private college that is pushing students to attend public universities. An argument can be made that because private universities are not state-funded, they can offer more financial aid and scholarships to offset the higher sticker price. Many private colleges will even offer close to $20,000 per year in financial aid to their top students. Private school advocates would also point to the fact that the price of private schooling has risen at a slower rate than that of public schooling in recent years. The National Center for Education Statistics points out that, “Between 2000–01 and 2010–11, prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board at public institutions rose 42 percent, and prices at private not-for-profit institutions rose 31 percent, after adjustment for inflation.” Because of this, it is possible for private schooling to be just as affordable as public schooling. Regardless of these facts, it is still clear that for the vast majority of students, public schooling is significantly less expensive. Personally, a private college would have cost me close to fifteen thousand dollars more per year to attend compared to Iowa State. Most students do not receive the highest scholarship amounts, and even those who do would struggle to bring the price of a private education within the range of a public education. In addition, even though the percentage of increase in tuition at private schools may be lower, Figure 2 (page 3) clearly shows that the volume of increase is greater. It would also appear that this trend of large price increases in public education may be changing. Lawmakers are fighting to keep the price of a college education from spiraling out of control. Last year, the price of public school rose at a lower percentage than private school for only the second time in ten years. The Atlantic states that this was the smallest increase in price for public schooling in 30 years. Although the fact that public universities are growing rapidly likely helps to explain the increase in enrollment at Iowa State, it fails to explain why Iowa State is growing more rapidly than its in-state counter parts. According to the Fall 2013 Enrollment Report by the Iowa Board of Regents, both the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa saw decreases in enrollment this year while Iowa State grew by 2,201 students (7.1%).

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Figure 2: Comparison of tuition at different institution types
Source: From “The Supersizing of American Colleges” on

According to the Iowa State University News Service, ISU President Steven Leath gave this possible explanation as to why Iowa State has been growing so fast, “We are both recruiting and retaining larger classes at Iowa State. There’s high demand for programs of study that have long been our core strengths. Iowa State offers a robust student experience that allows freshmen to get involved on campus from their very first day – whether in learning communities, intramurals, clubs or other leadership opportunities. And in the end, students tell us they see a return on their investment because they get good jobs.” President Leath is definitely on the right track with this statement. Two of the hottest job markets, engineering and agriculture, compose the cornerstone of Iowa State’s educational experience. The Iowa State academics website says that the College of Engineering ranks in the top 50 schools nationwide with several of its specific programs in the top 20, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the second largest in the country with several of its program ranked in the top 20 as well. Like President Leath stated, the university also has a terrific track record of job placement after graduation. This is confirmed by the Iowa State academics website. They say that, “Overall, 94.3 percent of Iowa State graduates are either employed or pursuing further education within six months of graduation.” Another reason why Iowa State is growing so quickly is simply that its students love the environment. With over 800 clubs to choose from, everyone can find their niche. Cyclone athletics are also rising into national contention with Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Wrestling, and Women’s Cross Country all finding themselves within the national rankings this year. Taking a walk on campus is also

Achterhoff 4 easy to enjoy. From the vast central campus green space overlooked by the iconic Campanile to the Reiman Gardens, Iowa State provides a beautiful campus which has been considered as one of the best in the country. A picture of central campus can be seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3: The book, The Campus As a Work of Art, proclaimed Iowa State to have one of the 25 most beautiful campuses in the country.
Source: From “Divest ISU From Fossil Fuels” on

The draw of being a Cyclone has caused Iowa State’s campus enrollment to explode in recent years, and there are no signs of it slowing down. While no single factor can be pinned down as the reason for the expansion, Iowa State University provides an exciting and fun learning environment where everyone can enjoy themselves in and out of the classroom while getting an affordable, quality education. It is not guaranteed that this time of prosperity will continue for Iowa State, but if the University continues to put its resources back into improving the Cyclone experience, it seems as though the current trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Anyone with college in their near future should definitely put Iowa State at the top of their list.

Achterhoff 5 Works Cited “Academics and the Student Experience.” Iowa State University Academics. University Relations, 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. “College Enrollment Statistics.” Statistic Brain. Statistic Brain, Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. “Divest ISU from Fossil Fuels.” Go Fossil Free. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. “Education Plan.” Light Bulb Press. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. Gaines, Thomas A. The Campus as a Work of Art. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 1991. Print. Gonzalez, Diana. “Fall 2013 Enrollment Report.” Iowa Board of Regents. Iowa Board of Regents, Oct. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. Hacker, Annette. “Iowa State University Enrollment is 33,241.” Iowa State University News Service. University Relations, 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. “The Supersizing of American Colleges.” Priceonomics. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. “Tuition Costs of Colleges and Universities.” National Center for Education Statistics. U.S. Department of Education, 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. Weissman, Jordan. “Public College Prices Rose at the Slowest Rate in 30 Years.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.