Showing posts with label high tuition prices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label high tuition prices. Show all posts

Monday, September 6, 2021

"If I knew then what I know now, I probably would have skipped college": Freshman enrollment is down 13 percent at 4-year schools

Freshman enrollment dropped an astonishing 13 percent last year, and overall college enrollment sank 4 percent. 

What accounts for this exodus? The COVID pandemic partly explains it. Colleges switched from classroom teaching to online instruction in the spring of 2020, which was decidedly inferior. Undoubtedly, many students have decided not to go back to college until the professors resume teaching face-to-face.

But COVID is only a partial explanation for the student-enrollment downturn.  Cost is a huge factor. It now costs about $75,000 a year (including room and board) to attend a private liberal arts college--$300,000 to get a four-year degree.

Private schools have slashed freshman tuition by more than 50 percent to lure new students through the door, and almost all first-year private-college students now get some sort of discount.  

But for most schools, that strategy has not been successful. Enrollments continue to drop.

But there is a third factor that helps explain plummeting college enrollment.  Students have figured out that a four-year college degree is no guarantee of a good job--particularly a degree in liberal arts or the social sciences.

Many employers no longer require new employees to have a college degree, including Apple, Google, IBM, and Bank of America. Young people have discovered that a vocational-school certificate may lead to a better job than a four-year degree in gender studies.

For example, CNBC carried a story about a young person who left college to enroll in a 14-week coding boot camp, "If I knew then what I know now," the former college student explained, "I probably would have skipped college."

As a guy who spent 25 years as a college professor in the higher-education gulag, I'm glad to see college enrollment declining.  Too many students ruin their lives by taking out student loans to get vacuous college degrees from institutions that don't teach students to think or solve problems. 

Colleges have hired market firms and "enrollment management" administrators to attract warm bodies back into the classroom. But young people are beginning to wise up. Small liberal arts colleges, in particular, are struggling to survive as their student enrollment shrinks.

More and more young Americans have come to realize they can have a good life without going to college. Unfortunately, some college students don't figure that out until they have destroyed their financial future by taking out too many college loans.

LSU students in a crowded classroom: Ain't we got fun!






Monday, October 5, 2020

Chong v. Northeastern University: No tuition refund to students whose classes were switched to remote learning due to COVID-19

American universities were dealt a severe blow last spring when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Almost all of them were forced to switch from face-to-face instruction to an online format in midsemester. 

Students at several universities filed lawsuits demanding a refund of tuition and fees. They argued that the quality of online teaching was inferior to classroom instruction, and they wanted their money back.

A few days ago, Judge D. J. Stearns, a federal district judge in Massachusetts, issued a decision in one of these cases: Chong v. Northeastern University. Plaintiffs had filed a class-action lawsuit against Northeastern to get a refund of tuition and fees, but Judge Stearns sided with Northeastern University.  In his view, Northeastern had not breached its contract with students by shifting to an online teaching format, although he allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their claim for a refund of the campus recreation fee.

I think Judge Stearns made the right decision, and I predict other judges will rule in favor of universities when they decide similar cases.  After all, it is not the universities' fault that the nation was virtually shut down by COVID-19 last spring. The colleges pursued their only reasonable option--which was to convert all instruction to a distance-learning format.

I am sure that complaining students are often right when they say that online instruction is inferior to face-to-face teaching. Nevertheless, new technologies like Zoom have improved the quality of video-conferencing.  I have taught via Zoom over the past several months, and I don't think my students' learning experience was hurt because I was not in the same room with them.

As I said, I think American colleges will win students' lawsuits demanding tuition refunds because their instruction was shifted to an online format. But that does not mean the colleges will skate through the coronavirus crisis unscathed.

Thane Gallo, one of the named plaintiffs in the suit against Northeastern, paid a tuition bill of $26,210 for the 2020 spring semester. Manny Chong, a graduate student in  Northeastern's counseling psychology program, was charged $23,400 to enroll in spring classes. That's a lot of money to take online courses.

All across America, universities will find that the coronavirus awoke students and their parents to the fact that the cost of attending an American college is too damned high. Undergraduate tuition at Northeastern is $52,000 a year, and students must pay additional money for room and board, textbooks, and assorted fees. 

That simply is not reasonable--especially when students are taking classes from their home computers.  In the months to come, colleges and universities may discover another symptom of COVID-19 not yet officially identified: sticker shock.

Snap out of it!