An Oct. 18 article (“Private colleges try to soften $50-60K ‘sticker shock’ ”) reports that the most expensive college in the state now tops $60,000 per year and that four other private colleges are close behind.

Even if financial aid reduced the cost by 50 percent — as many private colleges say is possible — we’re still talking about an undergraduate degree that costs $100,000 or more.

What the article doesn’t mention is that there is a much more affordable way to get an exceptional education in just about any area of study — 555 different programs, to be exact — in a wide range of liberal arts and technical fields.

As its name implies, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is a system of seven universities and 24 community and technical colleges throughout the state. The average cost of tuition is $5,399 per year at the colleges and $7,999 per year at the universities — and that is before financial aid is applied. Students who come from families with less than $20,000 in annual income pay only $525 in tuition per year at our colleges and $841 per year at our universities, while families with annual income of less than $40,000 pay $1,097 per year at our colleges and $1,409 at our universities. At these rates, a quality education is accessible to anyone who has a dream of a better future.

Outstanding higher education doesn’t have to cost $60,000 a year. We encourage students and their families to explore all their higher-education options, including the high-quality, more-affordable options available on the campuses of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

Devinder Malhotra, president, Metropolitan State University, and Avelino Mill-Novoa, president, Minneapolis Community and Technical College

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I am a recent Carleton College graduate, and I found the article on the “sticker shock” of private colleges to be underwhelming. This notion that private colleges are too expensive is not new, and reiterating it is not helping anyone, especially prospective students and their parents.

My brother attends the University of Minnesota. His tuition each year ended up being about the same as mine, even though Carleton is at least twice as expensive on paper. The reason: As the article states, Carleton gives 60 percent of its students financial aid; the U of M does not.

I feel like I read this article at least once a year, if not more often. Comparing the sticker prices of public and private schools is meaningless if the majority of students are not actually paying those prices. The truth is that college will be expensive for most students, no matter what. A ticas.org report shows that 70 percent of Minnesota students at public and nonprofit colleges graduate with debt — $30,894 on average. Let’s talk about how to fix that, and let prospective students (and their parents) focus on the educational programs at these schools, and on which will be the best fit for them.

Johanna Fierke, Minneapolis

 

HEALTH CARE

Report on Czech system’s wonders was too sketchy

As one who has ties to Eastern Europe, I disagree with the portrayal of the Czech Republic’s health care system and believe that it is a distortion of the real situation (“Health care done well,” Oct. 18).

Bonnie Blodgett’s description of the Czech Republic’s utopian health care system is based on fairy tales. Six- and eight-bed hospital wards, whereby everyone shares their cabbage rolls and pierogies, is something to aspire to? And we should heal better because the hospital is so quaint, being built in the 18th century?

The author is enthralled with the magical expertise of the Czech surgeons who repaired her friend’s ankle injury — a feat she states that could never be accomplished in the U.S. At the same time, she chastises the Czech physicians for being greedy and seeking to work in capitalist Germany.

She is also very sketchy on the actual details of the financing and administration of the Czech system. If there is universal health care as described, what are the actual costs to society? Are there taxes on the general population, businesses or employers? Does the government impose strict regulations on the insurance company, as in Germany?

Before we adopt such a utopian system of a health care system, more-detailed information should be presented by the author.

Dr. Gabriel Komjathy, Roseville

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Sure, the U.S. system is broken in many ways; sure, the Czech system costs much less. But Blodgett glosses over Czech shortcomings that make that bargain-basement system impossible in our country. The Czechs don’t have hyper­aggressive malpractice attorneys; Czech patients are consigned to large hospital wards; payments made on “medical results” ignore our reality of different populations at vastly different risk and cost levels; Czech physicians are paid so poorly that they are leaving for other countries; using low-cost X-rays to replace MRIs will often obscure correct diagnoses and add to costs in the long run. The encomiums about opening hospital windows to “let in the sounds of the bustling city” and reducing a compound fracture in the hallway are laughable at best. Lastly, Blodgett’s assertion that “polls show” that most physicians in the U.S. believe Obamacare “doesn’t go nearly far enough” defies this physician’s understanding of his colleagues. U.S. health care needs much change, but Blodgett’s fairy tale does nothing to advance understanding of the complexities. The Star Tribune should have printed a factual companion piece.

Dr. Richard Morris, Wayzata

 

‘WOMAN IN A MEETING’

Respect can, in fact, be found

I’m male. I began my career at General Mills in 1974 as a marketing assistant, fresh out of an MBA program and four years in the Navy. I shared a cubicle with a young woman who was harassed by some of the men who made it a sport to try to make her cry in meetings, and ultimately she was driven to move on. I was promoted to assistant product manager and was assigned a female marketing assistant who did very well. She was tough and took crap from no one and made an impression fast. I also supported her instead of trying to deep-six her career.

My superiors noticed that I was fine with managing/working with women at a time when highly competent women were getting MBAs. When I became a product manager, I ended up with an all-female brand group, with me being the obvious exception. We were very successful as a team. One of my proudest moments in a career that has included CEO spots in a few relatively small companies was when the ladies invited me to lunch and “inducted” me as an “honorary woman.” Now that was a big deal to me, and still is. What was that about? It’s simple really — fairness, a level playing field and the simple knowledge that wasting the talents of “Half The World” (read the book if you haven’t) was just dumb.

As a retired person, I have to say that I’m appalled if women still have to “position” and “manage” their input (“The delicate art of being a woman in a meeting,” Oct. 18). My advice from working with my first female direct report 41 years ago? Don’t stop being a woman, but also don’t stop providing your input and ideas. If there’s pushback, return the favor. I’m not asking you to “be a man,” but only to be assertive. Any competent male will hear and act on a good idea or help you if it’s not. Trust me. We’re out there. Keep the faith.

John F. Hetterick, Plymouth