This is a real conversation I had today with someone that works in RIT's Software Engineering department office.
- Me: [Speaking about the Software Engineering department's website.] This new design is terrible. I'd have a hard time taking this major seriously if I saw the website before I visited RIT and had a tour of the program.
- Office worker: Yeah, we don't really have any control over it. Higher-ups make the decisions and we just have to deal with it.
- Me: It seems like every department is completely helpless to make their own decisions and empower their students.
- Office worker: …welcome to RIT.
I feel like this is true more and more every day. RIT claims to have its students' best interests in mind, and then turns around and spends absurd amounts of money on things that aren't needed or wanted. Case in point: the fountains, the semester conversion, and the GeneSIS project that I wrote about, which is the "replacement" for our current student information system. It's a nearly-off-the-shelf copy of PeopleSoft, which is manufactured by Oracle. It is, without a doubt, the most terrifyingly bad software I've ever seen. And RIT has paid more than $24 million for it. They're not the first to experience the horrors of PeopleSoft, which makes the decision to pay for it even more inexcusable.
In the past, it was common for alumni to donate to RIT, and/or their specific major's department. More than a few of my friends and colleagues (both students and alumni) have expressed their newfound unwillingness to do so. If there was ever a chance of me personally donating anything to RIT, it has been utterly destroyed by the bureaucracy and the inherent lack of flexibility in everything that the administration does.
It's sad that RIT can be allowed to take ~$40,000 per year from its students and not allow them to have any say in how their money is spent. Even more sad is that this seems to be increasingly "normal" for schools in the US. It's abundantly clear that education in the US is broken, and RIT isn't making the case in their favor very well.
Things like Kahn Academy, Treehouse, and PeepCode are the future. I see them filling the gap where traditional higher education continues to fall short (in actually teaching people useful, practical skills). Unfortunately, it is still common practice at some workplaces to only hire college graduates. This needs to change, especially in light of our current education system's flaws, and the vast sums of money (and loans) required to get through it in one piece.
How much money you spend to earn your degree shouldn't define you. Your passion and your skills should.