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Will "the college experience" become less important when choosing a college?

ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82724 replies738 threads Senior Member
Will "the college experience" become less important when choosing a college, given the shift to distance education forced by COVID-19?

Students and parents may feel like they are paying for college, or a particular college, for these general types of reasons:

A. The college experience. This includes course format (in-person versus distance, class size, use of TAs, etc.) as well as the surrounding experience (residential versus commuter, social environment with other students, activities near the college, urban versus suburban versus rural setting, religion, fraternities and sororities, etc.).

B. Academic content. This includes the overall curriculum, majors offered, courses available, and content of courses. It may also include whether majors have external accreditation or are focused on applicable licensing exams (more common in pre-professional majors like nursing, civil engineering, architecture, etc.).

C. Post-graduation effects. This includes effect on employment (types of employers, location of employers, alumni network effect, prestige), effect on graduate or professional school, and social prestige.

There has been a lot of talk recently about how many expensive private colleges are "not worth it" when all colleges are now essentially the same for A with all doing distance education.

Do you forsee A being less important only for this year, or will there be a more lasting effect where A is less important than it was before? How much of a premium will students and parents be willing to pay for one college over another be based on B and C, after eliminating or reducing the premium they are willing to pay for A?
20 replies
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Replies to: Will "the college experience" become less important when choosing a college?

  • GKUnionGKUnion 627 replies16 threads Member
    A will never cease being important because this pandemic can’t last long enough to undo the decades of indoctrination into the “Cult of College.”
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82724 replies738 threads Senior Member
    I am imagining a world where the Ivy league and other top colleges offers an online only option, including, video lectures and zoom discussion seminars with the professor and other students. The entry requirements are identical to the standard residential college option but price is much cheaper.

    I think that this option would attract an older set of applicants than those that currently attend those schools ( almost all 18-22). People who need to still work basically full time around their studies to cover their living expenses. That’s not a bad thing. Society benefits when education is easily accessible to everybody. I would love to see more older career changers go to the top schools and not just the mostly lower rank ones that offers the flexibility and affordability that they need to succeed.

    If the entry requirements are the same, then there will be few older career changers at those "Ivy League and other top colleges" compared to the number who will go to other colleges, simply because most will not get admitted to "Ivy League and other top colleges".

    Now, if the "Ivy League and other top colleges" greatly increase the volume of students educated through distance education, then there may be the effect you suggest. To the extent that B above is something unique about them, that could be better. But they would dilute C above by becoming less exclusive, so they may not want to do that to a large extent. Of course, if they did do such a thing, that may be trouble for other colleges that are less attractive in terms of B and C.
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  • chrishudson1chrishudson1 51 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Even with everything being thrown out of place for the end of this semester, the college experience will soon restore to normality and distance education will only remain as a short-term alternative.
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  • RelicAndTypeRelicAndType 200 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Harvard Extension School offers many online courses as well, but the degrees require at least some residency and are likely to continue to.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 13839 replies170 threads Student Voice
    edited April 8
    In the US, the "college experience" has been around for a few hundred years, and has survived past pandemics, world wars, a major depression and a few recessions.

    The big, well known/wealthy privates and flagship public will survive Corona as well.

    I think Covid may reduce, temporarily at least, the number of students who can afford the pricey privates whose "college experience" is their key selling point. It will likely also reduce, permanently, the number of already financially strapped smaller, lesser known campuses.

    Academic content will also likely change over time, but not due to Covid. Rather due to changing demands, technology and intellectual/scientific trends.
    edited April 8
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  • EmpireappleEmpireapple 2216 replies28 threads Senior Member
    At yesterday's press conference Dr. Fauci was asked about returning to school next fall. He was quite confident that we would all be able to resume in person learning by fall. Distance learning will return to what it was - an option. Most will want to return to their in person, on campus experience.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10444 replies575 threads Super Moderator
    There are too many current college students and high schoolers with older sibs in college for “the college experience” to become a thing of the past. We are social creatures. If anything, demand might increase. Then again, some parents might balk at the price difference, but that could also be due to a recession. In short, I don’t think campus living is going to disappear.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30250 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Though, for some it may be the conclusion, my guess is that students and parents alike will be more than happy to ship off to a college campus. Nice as it may be to have one’s young adult home, it also causes all kinds of conflicts.

    College at home and online does it have that life broadening effect that going to a whole new locale does.
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  • RelicAndTypeRelicAndType 200 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Lindagaf wrote: »
    There are too many current college students and high schoolers with older sibs in college for “the college experience” to become a thing of the past. We are social creatures. If anything, demand might increase. Then again, some parents might balk at the price difference, but that could also be due to a recession. In short, I don’t think campus living is going to disappear.

    This. It's possible that effective demand (people able to afford it) will decrease. I doubt the desire for it will.
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  • collegeisagocollegeisago 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
    The College experience will always be important. The bigger question COVID19 will be changing is the cost and the distance of having this experience. Cost of OOS/Private vs In-State will be in the minds of many and how important this needs to be.

    There are a lot of kids who have been admitted to very good In-State schools on this go around and assuming they did not let go of those admissions, they are probably rushing to sign up.

    I just saw a reporter posting a question about New Orleans and whether a prospective student will be reconsidering going there now. Honestly, I can see so many people reconsidering this experience.
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  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School 3369 replies12 threads Senior Member
    A lower cost online option from the better universities would be highly beneficial for the nation, especially if we can bring our a good portion manufacturing base home. We will need a lot more engineers, scientists, researchers , computer scientists and designers . The current model is unaffordable and unsustainable, and a large portion of the population is stuck in substandard jobs which don't fully utilize their intellect.

    The in-person option might be optimal , but I think that the current crisis has shown that an alternative is highly desirable.
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  • gwnorthgwnorth 566 replies8 threads Member
    We will need a lot more engineers, scientists, researchers , computer scientists and designers .
    I would submit that training programs for those careers are very difficult to deliver on-line. You need labs and specialized tech equipment that most people are not going to have access to at home.
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  • massmom2018massmom2018 82 replies11 threads Junior Member
    edited April 8
    My son is a first year at a small liberal arts college. Having him home taking online classes has made us realize how lucky he was to spend most of the year away at school. I have younger kids and don't see our search changing because of this except of course my Junior in high school likely won't see many of the schools she will apply to.
    edited April 8
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  • collegeisagocollegeisago 116 replies8 threads Junior Member
    S20 applied to the University of Wisconsin which is OOS for us. They are not known to offer any meaningful merit scholarships to OOS students, but he did qualify to apply for one scholarship. He ended up getting accepted to the University but not getting the scholarship. The COA to have the Madison experience comes at a token of $55K per year. No thank you!!!!!!!! Similar "experiences" can be had for 1/3 of the cost and we knew that prior to applying.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82724 replies738 threads Senior Member
    edited April 8
    Lindagaf wrote: »
    There are too many current college students and high schoolers with older sibs in college for “the college experience” to become a thing of the past. We are social creatures. If anything, demand might increase. Then again, some parents might balk at the price difference, but that could also be due to a recession. In short, I don’t think campus living is going to disappear.

    The residential part of "the college experience" will not disappear, but it is already an unaffordable luxury item for the majority of college students (who commute to a local college from where they lived before college, and who must prioritize B (from post #0) within cost constraints when choosing a college). As it is, attending college as a residential student tends to signify either parents with money, or being a good enough high school student to get admitted to a college with good financial aid or get a sufficient merit scholarship.

    But with concerns about pandemics adding to the increasing cost of college, will going to college as a residential student become less common?
    gwnorth wrote: »
    We will need a lot more engineers, scientists, researchers , computer scientists and designers .
    I would submit that training programs for those careers are very difficult to deliver on-line. You need labs and specialized tech equipment that most people are not going to have access to at home.

    While many kinds of engineering and science require expensive labs and equipment for instruction, computer science has a considerably lower cost of entry to access the needed equipment. Granted, that is still a barrier for those from low income/wealth backgrounds, but the computers needed for education in computer science are much more accessible cost-wise than most engineering and science labs and equipment.
    edited April 8
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2880 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "In the US, the "college experience" has been around for a few hundred years, and has survived past pandemics, world wars, a major depression and a few recessions."

    Well the residential college/dorms are actually being experienced by fewer and fewer people, percentage wise anyway. After you take out the freshman that are at community colleges, part-time students, you're left with around 50-55% of freshman. Of those, the research has shown that about half at private colleges are on-campus and only 40% of public college freshman students are on campus. Meaning, maybe 25% of freshman in US colleges actually have the college experience, being on-campus at university-owned housing. And the numbers are less for second-years.
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