The state recently released “a report to the people of Massachusetts from the Massachusetts department of higher education Oct 2014”
It is a pretty lengthy read on why we need more graduates particularly in the STEM fields of nursing and computer science. The background context is colleges are underfunded. There was much discussion on how to get graduation rates up and in less then 6 years. The report was also looking at ways to keep students in state schools and not private schools. I suggest you read it and come to your own conclusions but here are some of my personal thoughts on the matter.
When I entered a public college 3 decades or so ago it was expected that students graduated in 4 years and the statistics colleges reported were the 4 year graduation rate now they report the 6 year graduation rate.
Financial aid is only for 4 years, and often the reason given for the longer time to graduate is students can’t afford the cost. They need to take time off of to work or slow down the process so they can afford the education. What happened? Why such a change?
My daughter now a college junior ended up at a private school for 2 main reasons. (1) the state schools she was accepted to offered zero financial aid – not even federal loans – but the private schools offered considerable aid which made the private school much cheaper then the public alternative. (2) At the state school open houses when a parent asked why it takes 6 years the college representative said they can not guarantee the students can take all the classes they need to graduate in the 4 year period. In this situation the students have no choice but to go to school longer. Remember any financial aid if given is only for 4 years. Neither of these reasons are mentioned in the report. Both are reasons my daughter attends a private college.
There is a push for more students to attend college – that is the whole premiss of the report we need more graduates. Are we building more colleges, are we hiring more staff, building more dorms? Some schools I saw new classroom buildings and dorms going up at some of the private colleges we visited. That did not seem to be the main priority at the state schools we visited. The report mentioned how more money was given to the state schools – but in the several we visited the money was used to renovate old buildings to become “green” buildings it did not increase capacity for the increased number of students being admitted. The increase in money funded upgraded facilities, not increase capacity nor financial aid.
It is complicated process that seems to have gone off the rails the last several decades. It is not going to be easy to get things back on track. I recommend you read the report, each of our personal experiences will let us take something different from it. Remember there is also a growing trend to say college is not as necessary as it once was.
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