Cut the Fat and Save: The Extension Campus
College costs have skyrocketed in recent decades with the inflation rate of tuition far exceeding that of nearly any other category, including medical care. When we explore the reasons as to why, we note it has nothing to do with the quality of education. Prices continually rise in spite of falling academic standards. Instead, according to researcher Ronald Ehrenberg and his ilk, costs have risen due to “an arms race of spending to improve facilities, faculty, students, research, and instructional technology.”
In order to attract students, flush with government and parental money, colleges market themselves by providing scores of non-educational service staff, extracurricular programs to enhance campus life, bloated administrations, and gleaming facilities of every kind. Wired up classrooms, cavernous dining halls, resort-style dorms, rec centers, and athletic facilities the envy of professional teams dominate the modern campus. Students of yesteryear made do with so much less… and not surprisingly paid so much less.
While many students in fact do want all these shiny new toys and will gladly pay extra for them, where does a serious-minded student find relief when one simply wants a quality, recognized, cost-conscious education without the frills?
Typically, when one thinks of the Ohio State University we synonymize it with its Columbus campus. The Texas Longhorns attend classes in Austin. To imagine Arizona State is to imagine downtown Tempe. And the same goes for private schools of all stripes. If we plan to attend a given school then the campus, frills and all, comes with the deal. Right?
Wrong. Students can shave significant costs by attending the school of their choice but in a remote location. Many, many universitiesallow students to show up for classes elsewhere via their extension campus network. Locations range from dedicated mini campuses in other cities, to partnered junior colleges, to downtown office parks, to military bases. Typically colleges offer classes away from the main campus in order to directly compete with schools in other cities or to tap into a pocket of potential students who are otherwise reticent to up and move for their education, i.e. working adults and infantrymen. Since these locations have cut the fat of their primary campuses students can often save substantial sums all-around.
If you can forego some of the various auxiliary amenities, staff, and programs offered on the main campus or attend college in a non-traditional setting (at times with non-traditional students) you can get an education from a name brand school for a lot less money. If this interests you it would be worth a look at some of the colleges on your short list to see if they have extension campuses.
One of my favorite local examples, along with the cost information: