COVID–19 My Predictions Part 3 – A Shift in Education
“Since most American students cannot simply pay their full tuition out of pocket, financing a college education often takes the form of loans, both private and from the government.” Charles B. Rangel
“I just want to be able to keep my house and pay for my son's school tuition in Los Angeles.” Diablo Cody
Prediction 3 – High school and college education will adopt a lower cost online model. With notable exceptions!
I am disgusted at the cost of college tuition. Are you?
Consider these facts. Harvard University has a current endowment of $39 Billion dollars, and yet they charge students an average of $51,000 a year to attend. Yale, with an endowment of $29 Billion dollars, charges their students around $56,000 a year. Princeton clocks in at $26 Billion and their tuition is $53,000. And none of this includes the seemingly endless expenses like dorms, meal plans, parking, books, etc.
I could go on, but what’s the point?
Even large state schools have impressive endowments. The University of Maryland has slightly over $1 Billion dollars, but it is a relative bargain with an average in state tuition of around $11,000. A two year community college is around $8300.
So why the large difference in cost? Well, having attended a community college (Augusta State University), a private university (George Washington University) and an Ivy League School (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University) I can honestly say there are differences. Walking along the shores of the bucolic Charles River to hear Dick Darman discuss the book he wrote was very cool!
Could that experience be delivered remotely?
My college age daughters have gone to college remotely. Soon my high school aged daughter will be trying it because of the COVID-19 quarantine. My oldest is working on her Masters in Nursing Degree, all online!
Each year I teach hundreds of students how to prepare for a variety of certifications. I also am an Executive Director of an organization with approximately 500 people across a variety of states, and I lead that organization remotely. I have also taken graduate classes remotely, and I found them both interesting and convenient.
The COVID-19 virus is going to force mainstream high school and college education to go online. A primary driver of that conversion is the need to educate. And of course the tuition money needs to keep coming! Colleges and universities have been nibbling around the edges of this for years, but this will force professors who have avoided online classes to adopt it.
This will ultimately drive down prices. The average cost of attaining a “brick and mortar” MBA in 2018 averaged $140,000 (source: affordablecollegesonline.org) while the average cost of an in state online MBA was $35,000.
Student loans are a crushing burden on young people and their families. Once people begin to realize they can get exactly the same education at a fraction of the cost, that option will explode in popularity. Forcing millions of high school and undergraduate students into online learning as a mitigation strategy for the COVID-19 epidemic will forever alter the landscape.
Except for the top tier schools I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
You don’t go to a top tier school (I am picking on the Ivy League, but there are others across the country) to “just” get an education. You are going because you can! You become part of an exclusive club. Here is a short list of the last names of famous political Ivy League Graduates: Cuomo, Gore, Clinton, Obama, de Blasio, Klobuchar, Blumenthal, Mendez, Schumer, Spitzer, Trump, Bush. Sometimes the actual politician, sometimes their kids.
If you are viewing the top tier schools through the frame of education, you are wrong. You go to those schools for access to others who go to those schools. While the rest of the educational system will migrate to online as a way of driving down cost and increasing attendance, I suspect the most elite schools will not.
It would dilute the brand.
Next I’ll look at the COVID-19 impact on globalization.
My daughter is pregnant and is also a nurse. Today we held a small baby shower and did everything we could to avoid a COVID-19 transmission. We set up a Facebook page and many of her friends wished her well and gave her much needed “baby” supplies. Other friends brought gifts to us in advance. We invited only immediate family and allowed a few people to come in, say hello and leave. At all times we maintained good social distancing. These are weird times to have a baby, but I am glad we could provide my daughter with a little “normal”.