"Is attending college harder than when I attended?" Yes, but here are my reasons...Yes, college is harder to get into and it should be because there is an expectation that everyone should go to college but the truth is we need people with vocations and not just degrees. Competition to get into schools is a good thing to weed out the ones who really should go into a vocation, say plumbing, and not get an English or whatever degree. In my day, we had to weed out the class so the professors knew the serious students from those that were killing time.
Second, in our consumer driven society, it's hard to afford all the luxury items we "must have" and pay college tuition, so since we are a credit society, we borrow now and worry how to pay later.
My husband and I worked to put our kids through school by not having the biggest house we could have had and the newest, most luxurious cars. We don't live off our credit cards, but rather live on a cash basis because our values were to pay for our kids' college without debt. We have 4 kids - two graduated from college and are working, one is a junior in college, and one is going this fall. I have nice average kids not smart enough or as achievement driven to get scholarships but they did get into nice universities. We are paying cash either from savings or through paychecks for everything, but they are on budgets. They are poor college students and they must earn for their spending money, but they have room, board, books, tuition and such paid by Mom and Dad. I dream of a day I can have my luxury sports car, but that's a few years away, along with our retirement home.
My kids know what sacrifices we have gone through to give them this gift of a debt-free college education and are grateful. I don't know who was more proud of them graduating my husband and me or the kids. Our pride was from doing the right thing and showing our kids how it could be done. We will see how they do with their kids.
PS. Our youngest is going to college on a sports scholarship and we are proud and excited for him, but we're also keeping his college fund in reserve because you never know when things may change. Until then, I have a few more years to dream about my sports car. We also just paid cash for our daughter's big white wedding...btw she did it the Dr. Laura way.