May 1st is a big day for many colleges, and for many potential college students. It is the date many colleges use as the deadline to pay your deposit as a new student to hold your place in the class and in housing. It is the indication that you the student really do intend to attend that college.
This has been a stressful spring recruiting season for a lot of colleges. The economy is wreaking havoc on our numbers. More than ever families are evaluating the value of the education the student will be receiving at any given college. We are seeing a lot of cross applications with state colleges, because for the price you get a pretty good product. In the state of Massachusetts, if you score over a certain amount on the state MCAS tests, you can qualify for free tuition at a state college. If that same student is eligible for a federal Pell grant, the cost to attend a state college is minimal. You SHOULD go there. We want you here, but it will still cost that student thousands of dollars out of pocket or through a loan to come to my college vs. going to a state college.
I am happy about a few of the consequences of the current economic situation. I am UNHAPPY that the Bob remains unemployed. But that aside, I think it is good that people are thinking longer and harder about how they spend their money. I think it is good that rampant consumerism might be curtailed a bit. It is good that both on a personal level people but also companies have to evaluate how they do business and scale back on expenses, to a certain extent.
For too long this country has focused on more, bigger, more, bigger. It is not a bad thing that we are being forced to really evaluate how we spend our money and what we really NEED. There will always be those who don’t care about that. One of the people on my Facebook friends list put out a status update saying she was thinking that an income of $250,000 really wasn’t that much for a two person household. I bust out laughing. I would be THRILLED with that kind of income. She clarified that she thought that it wasn’t a lot if you wanted to own a home in New England and have some kids. I laughed again. I own a home, I live in New England, and have a kid. And when Bob was working our combined income was considerably less than that. I think people EXPECT a lot in this life. They WANT a lot. But what do we really NEED?
Most students don’t need a private college education. It is a luxury in this country that we have such wide access to higher education. We are a very fortunate and rich country in so many ways. I hope that as we work our way out of this stupid economic situation, created much in part by greed and lack of respect for people, the environment and for doing what is right, I hope that we find some integrity and common sense.
In the meantime, because of my role at this college, I also hope that at least 500 new students decide they really do want to be and can afford to be students here. So my boss doesn’t lose her ever loving mind. Because that kind of crazy doesn’t stay contained to one person. She likes to share the insanity.