As America's colleges return to class with mostly or all online courses and virtual gatherings, a growing number of students and parents are crying foul. They either want campuses and classrooms reopened, or schools to reduce tuition and fees since they've already reduced the college experience. Texas schools are among the majority that have refused to lower prices while switching to partial or full online classes.
Marty Nemko, an education consumer advocate who writes the How To Do Life blog, says this is just the latest example of the higher education ripoff that has been happening for decades. "All the cost-shifting, the Robin Hood-ing they do, moving the sticker price to the poorest of the poor," he tells KTRH. "Higher education is America's most overrated product."
Nemko argues that colleges and universities charged exorbitant prices for diminishing returns even before the coronavirus pandemic. "Study after study shows that between freshman year and graduation, the actual average (college) student growth is trivial," he says. "Thirty-six percent gain nothing at all in writing or critical thinking skills."
As for the much-heralded value of a college degree: "Now that we have the highest percentage of high school graduates going to college, it's merely a hunting license," says Nemko. "Employers yawn at a degree."
Some 30 class-action lawsuits are now pending against colleges, alleging breach of contract for switching to online classes. Nemko believes permanent reforms are necessary to fix the broken college system, but doubts it will happen because of politics. "Firestone was nearly thrown out of business because of one bad tire, yet the higher education establishment continues to grow, frankly because it is politically correct," he says. "And (colleges) are the promulgators of the politically correct ideas that keep Democrats in charge."