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Colleges: are you coming aboard to better fund your students?

A local high school student reported that just before they recently graduated a group of them were obliged to sit briefly through a presentation sponsored by the local ACLU, teachers' union and a nearby community college. The guest presenter was a marketer from the community college. The topic of the presentation was “Go to our state schools.”

The presentation offered all the quality points that the guest could offer while concurrently and pleasantly diminishing out of state alternatives, actually castigating students for such decisions. Her intent aside, her timing was particularly poor and the audience made less receptive by her condescension. The student audience represented many of the best students in the graduating class. A number of them had already received and accepted very substantial financial awards packages from high quality schools located out of state, and they were aware of some specific California state school challenges. One student parried suggesting: the majority of California public colleges are quite large, the tuition and fees (once very low) are substantial and ever increasing, admissions substantially favor those who (according to FAFSA data) will pay more out of pocket or will come in as out of state or foreign students themselves (with higher tuition assignment). Reduced course offerings, particularly in introductory courses also preclude many students from graduating in a timely manner. Additionally, in this group none of their peers received any laudable in-state, public college award offers.

After receiving such student feedback the presentation seemed to have been subsequently abbreviated and the representative departed. Even the high school staff members seemed surprised at the tenor of the event. Although presented in an anecdotal manner, the event occurred as described. Colleges, you have to remember that students are your customers. It is enough that that they are challenged to graduate after they matriculate, and challenged to get employment after they graduate. They do not need the challenge of an insignificant number, in an inefficient system that will leave them substantially indebted whether they graduate or not. Some colleges (e.g., the Ivy League, USC, others) are coming aboard to assure better outcomes and better fund their students. How about yours?