College students pay full-price for online experience


Photo submitted by Annalise Bell of Annalise Photography

Photography Editor-in-Chief Mairin Torgerson’s senior photo.

With millions of students across the globe becoming well-accustomed to attending school from the safety of their homes, it seems online school is the new normal. Though some schools have returned to in-person or a hybrid model, almost all students from elementary through college have had some type of online version of school.

For college students though, the situation is more than just learning from home. Online school means missing out on an actual “college experience.” But yet, students are still paying regular tuition, even though it is not what they are paying for. College students should pay full tuition for online courses because they lose out on professor interaction and support, social interaction and events that their money is going towards, and they do not have the same resources available to them.

From a survey of 13,606 college students in the United States done by study guide platform OneClass, over 93% of students said that if classes are held fully online, tuition should be lowered. The study also found that about 75% of students were unhappy with the quality of the classes, and the concerns have been mutual across the country.

“It is frustrating, I am not getting the same amount of help and instruction as I would normally get, but I am paying the same amount,” junior at the University of Minnesota Grace Collmann explained.

Her professors have short office hours and tend to take a while to respond to emails, with some not even having a daily online lesson like a Zoom call.

While a few student activity buildings at the college are open for students to use, most are difficult to get access to and tend to have shortened hours as well. Not being able to contact professors efficiently or use student resources that normally would be available are just some of the drawbacks of an online class.

“What you are paying for is the expectation of high quality and in-person classes from an institution that will give you a high level of education, but if it is online, you are not getting that same quality of education, so it is not worth the same amount of money,” senior Charles Maloney said.

It is frustrating, I am not getting the same amount of help and instruction as I would normally get, but I am paying the same amount.

— Grace Collmann

Maloney plans on attending a 4-year university this fall as a freshman unless it is going to be all online, in which case he might explore other options like going to a less expensive community college where he can take his general courses before attending a 4-year institution. Many seniors are planning on taking this route as it will save money, but some do not want to be older when they begin at a university.

College and Career Specialist Amy Carr feels that students should decide what they need to do based on whatever is going to be best for them. For some, it means paying full tuition at a college like the University of Minnesota so a student can have a “college experience,” and for others, it might mean attending a community college like Century College and taking generals to save money. However, she agrees that students are being cheated and should not be paying full tuition, though she also understands why colleges are still charging full price.

Some could argue that colleges still need to operate and have costs that need to be covered. Professors still need to be paid, as well as any other staff, and while this is true, a small discount for students would not make it impossible. Many buildings are not being used during the pandemic which also reduces costs for the college. Obviously, students should still be paying for classes, but even a slight reduction in the cost could help offset the gap.

College students should not pay the regular tuition for classes where they do not receive the same professor support and interaction, and do not have the same resources on campus available to them. The pandemic was unprecedented for everyone including colleges, but it does not mean students should be paying the price.