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Colleges just announced that while most classes will occur online, schools will not reduce tuition. Students have tried to sue to get their tuition decreased and the schools have prevailed.

College administrators are telling us online college is MORE expensive for schools than in-person college. But wait. Does this mean there is MORE VALUE in online college? Because we just lived through Zoom education and no one likes it.

Colleges are not creating value.

Really, it’s not that online college is more expensive for schools because it’s more valuable. It’s more expensive because of all the lost revenue schools incur. Room and board losses totaled $100 million for University of Wisconsin. And Stanford projects a $620 million loss of revenue this coming school year. But the real cost of online college is cancelling the NCAA tournament ($375 million lost) and the football season ($4 billion lost).

Colleges stifle education innovation.

So things are looking terrible for colleges and they are trying to convince kids to return to school anyway. But then Trump threw a zinger: Deporting all international students who take all their classes online. This is a moment of irony, really. I’m sure some university lobbyists pushed through a law that says you have to take the majority of your classes in person to get a student visa. That way established universities so they don’t have to compete with upstart online universities for international students. No one wants to share international students because they account for $41 billion in revenue for US colleges.

The bottom 50% of colleges are a scam.

Trump backed down off of international students, but it looks like a lot of colleges may go bankrupt anyway. But maybe that doesn’t matter, because the Atlantic says that if you can’t get into the top 50% of private colleges or the top 30% of public colleges, then it’s not worth paying to go to college at all. So it seems that the bankruptcy of bottom-ranked colleges is not so bad.

Colleges reinforce the economic status quo.

For those schools that survive, I think we will need to have more honest conversations about what, really, is the value of higher education in the US. The New York Times shows that most colleges do not create social mobility. Even poor students who go to the Ivy League do not get out of poverty. Few people would say higher education should exist to solidify the 1%, but we are getting close to that anyway.

College diversity programs avoid US-born Black kids.

Also, in the midst of a Black Lives Matter groundswell, we need to face that diversity in colleges comes from the international students. For example, Yale ranks #1 for diversity, but if you remove the international students, Yale drops to #44 for diversity. This means that after decades of pushing colleges to admit more Black kids, colleges talked a big game about diversity, but admitted foreign students instead of Black kids from the US.

The value of college is to create social mobility.

Now that I am learning about White supremacy culture, I am see the ubiquitous undermining of Black financial stability by US institutions. There is going to be a big shakeup in higher education because it’s not viable in its’ current state. When that shakeup comes, we should insist that colleges define their value in terms of creating social mobility and including Black students in that equation.

Otherwise, if colleges cannot figure out how to elevate Black students, then we need to defund colleges just like we are defunding police. We cannot afford to spend any more time or money on organizations that refuse to change.

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