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EGCC’s death flashes warnings about non-resident students

It’s May 13, and we’re inching ever closer to May 31, which is D-Day for Eastern Gateway Community College. As it becomes ever clearer that there is no hope for salvaging EGCC, it bears repeating that EGCC should serve as a warning to any other community college that sees value in making a quick buck off of enrolling non-resident students.

(Locally, I can’t imagine anyone being that stupid but you can never really tell, can you?)

As time goes on, and as Washtenaw County residents dump ever more money into WCC, I feel like we’re entitled to quarterly report that shows the size of our involuntary investment in students who:

  • do not live in Washtenaw County;
  • work in Washtenaw County but can’t afford to live here;
  • live and/or work outside the County;
  • live and/or work outside the State of Michigan;
  • live and/or work outside the country.

I think it would be eye-opening for Washtenaw County taxpayers to fully appreciate that their summer tax payments help to subsidize the educational costs of people who neither live nor work here; will likely never set foot in Washtenaw County; probably cannot correctly pronounce “Washtenaw,” and may not even be able to locate Washtenaw County without Google’s assistance.

Yet here we are, subsidizing anyone and everyone who wants to enroll in classes at Washtenaw Community College. Regardless of where they live, what they study, and how long it will take them to achieve (or not achieve) their educational goals. All for a rock-solid 0% return on investment for the Washtenaw County taxpayers.

We don’t owe non-resident students an education

The quarterly investment report should also have to disclose the drop rate, the failure rate, and the graduation rate of non-resident students who attend WCC at a discount. I also think it’s fair to require the WCC Administration to disclose how much we paid for non-residents to fail and drop classes at WCC.

In a perfect world, we should at least get our subsidy money back for non-resident students who enroll in our college at an inexplicably generous discount and then drop or fail. (Reimbursement might be the only thing we get out of this whole deal.)

It might also be fair to require the WCC Administration to disclose the drop rate and failure rate among online students compared to the drop and failure rates of students who take the same classes in person. WCC should also disclose the course completion rates of out-of-district online students to in-district students who took the same classes in person. I suspect that such numbers would confirm that WCC is simply offering up an academic version of “Three Card Monte.”

Required disclosure all of this “success” data would quantify the sheer insanity of enticing out-of-district students from the four corners to attempt online credit coursework when their probability of success is limited. What is the actual goal here? There is no benefit to the Washtenaw County taxpayer, and there is a high degree of risk for the out-of-district students.

So, who benefits from this “strategy?” And what happens if someone decides to sue?

Photo Credit: Plashing Vole, via Flickr