As we slowly find ourselves a little over a month out from returning to our campuses this Fall, or at least returning to our canvas sites for online lectures, the bureaucrats entrenched in Big Education are looking for new ways to absolutely screw their constituents and further put thousands of students into a crippling debt upon graduation into what is one of the most volatile economies in our lifetimes.
But what does this volatility matter if you have a degree from a prestigious university like Harvard or Georgetown? Well apparently it doesn’t because these universities, along with many others, announced this week that they will be going forward for the 2020-2021 school year with classes fully online and full tuition.
I wrote about Indiana’s return to campus just a few weeks ago and the biggest question that I noted was how the plan didn’t mention tuition costs for the upcoming academic year. Indiana is scheduled to do a hybrid type learning environment where we already know over 1/4 of our year will be online completely. Yet, Indiana still decided to increase tuition. Now, according to a study done by Potomac University, about 3 in 4 students learn better in an in-person classroom compared to an online setting.
This study also looks at many of the benefits of online learning: flexibility, speed of instruction, and value. The value and actual amount paid for traditional online degrees isn’t even half the price of a traditional diploma. So why is tuition being increased for these all-online semesters?
Well, obviously the brand in question has a lot to do with it. Harvard, Georgetown, etc. are all very exclusive, prestigious schools that claim to not be able to put an actual price on the value and worth their experience holds. That was until yesterday. Harvard has put a price of just under $50,000 for online classes.
To me, this says one of two things:
- Harvard values their on-campus experience as a free byproduct of their classrooms. They believe that in order to graduate from Harvard this is the price that is justified in receiving credits to fulfill a transcript and degree. If this were the case, though, then why are extra-curricular’s so important to Harvard’s admissions process? Doesn’t being a “Student of Harvard” have to carry much more weight than just being book smart? Among the clubs and organizations outside of Harvard’s classrooms that draw so much attention you would think that Harvard has to put a price on those opportunities.
- Harvard knows that simply a degree from Harvard is worth what they say it is. Just because of their prestige they can charge students whatever they see fit to not only keep the lights on but also continue to hit their KPI’s that will further increase administrators salaries and endowment funds. By keeping tuition for what they know is an inferior product, they can continue to allow for research and analysis that molds to their narrative that further proves why Harvard is the #1 academic institution in the country. This means that the fact that it’s online doesn’t actually matter and it’s all just the social acceptance of what a Harvard diploma represents.
Now obviously neither of these ideas are completely true but I think the 2nd would have a much stronger rabbit hole to go down and build a case.
This is because these schools have an opportunity by transitioning to online to scale bigger than they ever could have imagined. And if they can do that while proving the education is equal to the in-person mode of teaching? Then yea they will be justified to charge fees that high. It would allow them to admit hundreds, if not thousands, more students and still claim the same quality of education.
The problem, however, is no one is going to see the degrees as the same value from the student/consumer side. This is proven by already available Harvard classes online. A lot of the college experience is that of living in the dorms, walking to class, taking a Saturday test, having a community to spend your young adult years in, and being able to meet professors face to face.
Obviously these administrators know this and should want to create a plan that fairly values the classes offered vs. the rest of that school’s experience. But, it seems like this short-term thinking of just squeezing as much money out of their students is what a lot of big, even public, schools will be doing this Fall. I don’t think students should stand for it and if they aren’t given the amenities, experiences, and opportunities that were promised by the University there should be a serious look at how much tuition is actually paid.
With the savings in operating costs that all these institutions have coming in the next year, on top of millions, if not billions, of dollars in endowments, it would seem like they should take this opportunity to really throw support to their students and ensure they are set up for the future.
It’s hilarious because everyone knows the first thing to happen after getting a degree from your university is them then asking for donations. I can’t imagine wanting to give money that I know will go to a place that sees their students as walking checkbooks.
Students need to demand more from their educators.