Lately there has been speculation regarding why college costs so much, yet no one has come to any real conclusion about the reason, or solution. It is easy to assume that this problem stems from expensive gyms and extravagant dorms, but many, like Matt Reed, argue that cannot be the only factor. This notion has even become one of the most talked about issues of the 2016 Presidential election. Regardless of the why and the how, what is certain is that the cost of college has increased significantly. In the past 20 years the cost of higher education has gone up 296% (in state), with inflation rising only 55%. As if that weren’t scary enough, Americans now owe more in student loan debt, $1.3 trillion, than in credit card debt, $800 billion. Students and parents are taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans that they cannot necessarily pay back.
The popular Twitter account @CollegeStudent equates signing up for college loans to The Little Mermaid, when Ariel gives up her voice for all of eternity.
As a college student I can tell you that this is a very real issue that most of us are thinking about on a day to day basis, especially now that tuition is due and we have to start thinking about where to find textbooks. Textbooks are often not budgeted in the cost of college, because many students underestimate just how much it is going to cost them. I mean, how much could a few books cost?
The Twitter account @CollegeStudent jokes about being unable to repay student loans.
At most schools there is an option to buy from the campus bookstore. This is generally the safest option as you can find brand new books, or decent quality used books, that are guaranteed to be exactly what the professor wants you to have. Unfortunately, in many cases this textbook costs more than $200. That is a lot of money to spend on textbooks, never mind on just ONE book for ONE class. You could easily be expected to spend this for each of your classes (for most, that would be between four and five classes) and could be asked to buy more than one textbook per class. This has students breaking the bank just to pay for books, never mind the actual lesson.
Empathetic Educators Helping Students Save
A recent study found that year to year, college students are buying the same amount of course material, but are spending less and less money. This is because they are going to Amazon, Chegg, and Barnes and Noble to find discounted versions. Some professors are considerate of this; I had a professor last semester that required a book that was almost 10 years old, which I found online for between $0.01 and $15. I also had a professor who used an online lab book written by a colleague at another campus location, which I only had to pay $30 for.
Even better than the occasional understanding professor, are the schools that are spearheading the issue of rising costs in education. For example, Bowdoin College in Maine is using Chegg as their campus textbook store so that students can find inexpensive options of the books they need without the risk of buying the wrong version. My school, the University of New Hampshire, actually got rid of the on campus bookstore and now only has a “pop-up bookstore” at the beginning and end of each semester.
Another way schools are fighting nonsensical costs are by using Open Educational Resources (OER). Extreme Networks found that OER are becoming progressively accepted by K-12 and Higher Ed schools across the United States. Overwhelmingly, users are happy with the quality of these resources, and even happier with the price. The University of New Hampshire is piloting an OER program this coming semester to save students money while allowing professors to drive the curriculum and boost the quality of the pedagogy.
Reduced textbook costs give students a break from the burdening debt, but students are not the only ones who could use some help. With news of schools going bankrupt, the top concerns in higher education are student retention and online solutions. Network analytics is improving education by allowing administrators to optimize network bandwidth, ensure network performance, and control software license costs. These benefits and savings provide instant aid to the school and trickle down into savings for students. Schools also have the option of taking advantage of new technologies, such as online, competency based, and otherwise disruptive practices of education that can lower the cost for students and themselves. The cost of a college education is ever increasing, but the campuses that are working to ease the burden both on themselves and their students will see the benefits to their business.
To learn more about Extreme Networks’ solutions for Higher Education click here.