President Obama’s plans to make college more affordable show that his heart is in the right place. Hopefully this means he will address the other problem that is preventing people from being able to access higher education.
The economic crisis has also hurt colleges and universities. State budget cuts have lowered the amount of funding going to community colleges and public universities.
Each has had to decide which budget cuts are necessary. Often, this means not hiring new professors, which lowers the number of class offerings. Also, it means cutting graduate programs that don’t generate as much money as undergraduate courses.
Without readily available jobs, many people who would normally graduate sooner or not continue to graduate school, college applications have skyrocketed. As a result of less funding and more applicants, college acceptance rates have plunged.
Because less people can afford to pay private school tuition, there are an increasing number of applicants to public universities and community colleges.
According to Montgomery Educational Consulting, more applicants will be placed on waiting lists and that more colleges may be unable to meet the full financial need of those students they admit. College experiences may not be as rewarding as they once were, as many universities are going into a hiring freeze, resulting in larger average class sizes.
Some campuses are eliminating competitive sports. Student services may be cut as well.
Due to state budget cuts and the overall economic crisis, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times report that public universities are admitting fewer students, while private universities are increasing admissions to increase revenue.
Private universities, however, are not admitting enough extra students to compensate for the thousands of applicants that are being denied admission into public universities that they once would have easily been accepted to.
According to Inside Higher Ed, community colleges have also seen an application surge. People who have lost jobs are seeking to gain additional skills to add to their resume. Students who traditionally would have gone to four-year universities are saving tuition by attending community college first to earn their associates.
Community colleges have also been hurt by state budget cuts. Most have sought to cut academic and career advising professionals rather than teachers. They are trying to accept as many students as possible, but as the number of applicants continues to grow they too will have to be more selective with admissions.
Good grades and a few extracurricular activities are not enough anymore to ensure college admission, whether you’re applying to PSU, grad school or elsewhere. More applicants means that colleges can be more selective in who they choose to enroll. Most claim that they are looking for powerful essays that demonstrate how you would benefit the school.
Higher education should be accessible to anyone who desires it. Luckily, we have a president who agrees with that statement. Hopefully, when he has time to take a close look at higher education, he’ll see that helping individuals be able to afford tuition is just the beginning. Colleges and universities also need funding. We need more colleges and universities to accommodate our ever-growing population.