DePaul students — faced with online classes and high tuition — turn to community colleges


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Students at College of DuPage gather for Commencement in 2018.

More and more students are deciding that the full price of attending DePaul is too high, considering online classes have become the norm.

DePaul announced Wednesday that most classes for the fall quarter would shift to an online format — even more than what was planned originally. Tuition, however, will not reflect the change.

Peyton Raleigh, a DePaul sophomore and international studies major, said her academic advisor Corban Sanchez told her in spring that she’d never seen so many students applying for external credit at community colleges.

However, DePaul spokesperson Kristin Mathews said the university “did not note any significant variance” in external credit requests this year for spring and summer.

This summer, Raleigh took a full online course load through Joliet Junior College.

“I struggle in an online environment, but I did end up learning something,” she said. “But that’s why I wanted to take them at a community college — it just wouldn’t be worth the cost at DePaul.”

Compared to her DePaul class experience in the spring after the university made all classes remote, Raleigh said her Joliet classes were more effectively administered and organized.

“I was surprised with how much the DePaul professors struggled with adapting classes to online,” she said. “They could not keep up, whereas the community college professors were used to it; they always do these online classes.”

The uptick in community college enrollment mirrors a pattern that emerged during The Great Recession. During that period, community college enrollments spiked initially, especially among students older than 24.

Enrollment and application numbers at the College of DuPage, a Chicagoland community college, seem to be in line with that trend, said spokesperson Jennifer Duda — though the fall numbers are still coming in.

“For our Summer 2020 term, we saw a 2.1 percent increase in [full-time equivalent enrollments],” she said via email. “While the fall term begins Aug. 24, enrollment figures remain in flux… That being said, our applications are currently up by 6.9 percent.”

Duda added that DuPage has seen an increase in inquiries from students of four-year schools.

Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at New York University, told New York Magazine he thinks education at pricey four-year universities is a bad deal right now for most students.

“The value of education has been substantially degraded,” Galloway said. “There’s the education certification and then there’s the experience part of college. The experience part of it is down to zero, and the education part has been dramatically reduced. You get a degree that, over time, will be reduced in value.”

DePaul student Ivy Souter, a 20-year-old film and television major, said she’s decided to opt out of taking all her classes at DePaul this fall.

“I’m taking Math 101 at Triton Community College,” she said. “I decided to take this at Triton to save money since it’s a Gen Ed that doesn’t go towards my major at all.”

When asked if DePaul administrators are considering a tuition reduction, Mathews only pointed to previously announced cancellations of the student activity fee, the athletics fee, and the university’s decision to make the U-Pass optional.

“Students will continue to work through the same nationally respected curricula; be taught by the same world-class faculty; and make personal connections with professors and classmates,” she said.

Galloway said universities know that the value of their degrees has dropped, but they refuse to reflect that in the price of tuition.

“At universities, we’re having constant meetings,’” he said, “and we’ve all adopted this narrative of ‘This is unprecedented, and we’re in this together,’ which is Latin for ‘We’re not lowering our prices, bitches.’”

Correction (8/15/2020): A previous version of this story listed Peyton Raleigh as a junior. The story has since been updated to reflect her correct academic standing of sophomore.