Ivory Tower

Synopsis: A documentary that questions the cost -- and value -- of higher education in the United States.
Director(s): Andrew Rossi
Production: Samuel Goldwyn Films
  3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

I've always felt,

when I step onto a college campus,

a slight element of melancholy in the air.

If you're a teacher,

you arrive every fall semester

for the new year,

and you know

that you've gotten a year older,

but the students

are the same age as they always were.

They keep replenishing themselves.

College is a way of trying

to preserve cultural memory.

It is an effort to cheat death,

so it's a kind of struggle

against time and mortality.

The United States has managed to

provide a postsecondary education

to a larger percentage of its

population than any society in history.

But a lot of forces

are converging

at the present moment to create anxiety.

Is college overrated?

I'm saying it's a myth.

It's become a race

for credentialism.

Has college

become too expensive?

I think it's going to

tum into the foreclosure situation.

Students are gonna default...

Every parent who tries

to pay for their child's education

is feeling sticker shock,

and access and completion of college

are more challenging in our time.

Of all the time

bombs in the American economy

set to explode,

student loan debt

in this country has reached $1 trillion.

We may see

a tsunami of student loan defaults.

There are problems

in all the sectors of higher education,

and it's a perfectly fair expectation

for students and their families

to want to know

that when they leave college,

they're going to have some skills

that somebody's going to be

willing to compensate them for.

We've got a lot of people

with college degrees waiting tables,

cleaning toilets, you know, driving taxis.

Nearly half of all students are showing

no significant gains in learning.

But there's

an apocalyptic dimension to this as well.

And that is the idea

that the very concept of the institution

of higher learning is about to be broken.

And only a very,

very small handful of colleges

will survive intact

on the other side of this tidal wave.

We're at the point

where people are saying,

"Maybe you don't have to go to college."

Is college worth it?

There have been

moments in human history

when those who said the future's

gonna look a lot different very soon

have been right.

This might be one of them.

This is the

John Harvard statue.

Now, people come

from all over the world

to take pictures with this statue.

In education, there are

these very powerful social forces at work

where people just imitate

what other people are doing

without reflecting on why they're doing it.

Things like,

"How do you get into the right college?

"How does your kid

get on the right track?"

College has been sold and

over-sold as the key to a better future.

And somethings gone very wrong with it

over the last few decades.

Higher education has had

the privilege for a very long time

of being a black box.

It created this prestige

and this mystique around it,

but we've never really

examined very closely

the ingredients on the box.

We need to really rethink,

"What are the specific things

that people are learning,

"and why are they valuable?"

Welcome, Class of 2016.

You may have sensed that some of us

are expecting you to save the world,

preferably by the time you graduate.

But just remember,

a key part of any success

is the part of you that is willing to fail.

We at Harvard

believe that the best

Kind of education for undergraduates

is a liberal arts education.

And that means a broad education

across the fields of human inquiry.

We aren't educating students

for a first job.

We want to give them

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Andrew Rossi

Andrew Rossi is an American filmmaker, best known for directing documentaries such as Page One: Inside the New York Times (2011). more…

All Andrew Rossi scripts | Andrew Rossi Scripts

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Ivory Tower" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 6 Feb. 2023. <https://www.scripts.com/script/ivory_tower_11075>.

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