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The College of Wooster is a school for the rich

Last week we received the disheartening, but unsurprising news from the administration that tuition will be going up yet again next year, bringing the total cost of attendance for the 2018-19 school year to $62,100. This will be the tenth consecutive year that the cost of attendance at Wooster has increased.

It is peculiar that the College continues to raise tuition despite cutting costs and increasing fees across the board. The changes being made to the libraries this upcoming semester are major cost-cutting moves, which will make a significant difference at the margins. Increases in small fees here and there, such as the increase in the price of C.O.W. card replacement a few years back from $10 to $20, are other extra marginal sources of revenue for the College.

And yet the costs keep rising. Why is this the case? Is our money being severely mismanaged by the socially distant trustees? Or perhaps the salaries of the top-level administrators are not high enough? Bolton has not disclosed her salary, but the previous president’s salary was upwards of $437,000 per year. We would like to think that the administration is above raising tuition for the sole purpose of increasing their salaries. But since the administration has not disclosed any concrete details about why costs are going up, we cannot be sure that this is not the case.

When challenged about the egregious cost of attendance, the administration would cite the fact that 99 percent of Wooster students receive financial aid. What they will not acknowledge, however, is the fact that the average amount of aid given to students per year, ($34,000 according to College Factual) is barely enough to cover half the cost of attendance. Are our families just supposed to have $28,000 lying around each year to cover this cost? Are we supposed to take out $28,000 in loans annually to meet the remainder of the cost? Of course not; if we cannot fork over these insane sums of money, then we are not welcome at The College of Wooster.

It is clear what type of customers Wooster wishes to attract. I use the word customers intentionally because colleges in the U.S. in general are run like businesses. The administration seeks upper-class customers to attend their college because it’s a better business model for them, among other reasons. Now that they’ve surpassed the $60K threshold, they have automatically excluded many lower and middle class families from even considering Wooster as an option.

There is ample evidence that Wooster is managed more like a business than an institution of higher education. One highlighting example is the fact that students are not allowed to live in off-campus housing unless they have extenuating circumstances. The Scot’s Key makes this clear, and lays out the punishment for living in unauthorized housing. “For any unauthorized housing arrangements discovered, the student(s) will be fined, sanctioned and may not be released from the responsibilities of their on-campus housing assignment” (Scot’s Key, Page 65). It is widely known that off-campus housing is much cheaper than the artificially inflated room and board prices that the administration charges. This is a crooked manipulation of college policy that forced students to either get into more debt than they’re already in, or simply drop out. But as long as the money keeps flowing and the student body remains complacent, the administration sees no problem.

If I’m wrong and the administration does not operate as I describe, then they should prove it to all of us. They should disclose the salaries of all administrators, and they should disclose every detail of the budget in the most transparent way possible. If they refuse to do this, their true colors shall be revealed.

Evan White a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at EWhite18@wooster.edu.

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One Response to “The College of Wooster is a school for the rich”

  1. Trond Peersen says:

    As an alumni, the issue of tuition rises has been a concern for a great number of years. Especially when you look at schools like Berea College in Kentucky that is a top ranked school and has zero tuition. As an alumni, I have increasingly in the last 15 to 20 years become alarmed about the Wooster administration being infiltrated by career higher education administers. Who knew you can get a Ph.D. in high education, that demands hundreds of thousands in compensation the day after you graduate, absent of any proof that you can deliver anything beyond memorized slogans.

    This is largely the split between me and Wooster, and why after some 26 years of advocating Wooster to high school students, I now am more nuanced in my approach. Due to cost, Wooster truly is no longer the best choice for many who otherwise would flourish at the school.

    Reality for todays Wooster student is that you have a lifetime ahead of “correcting” bad decisions made by Wooster administrators and the larger American organizational management be it education, business, government or non-profit. In many ways, Wooster is a reflection of a larger failed society. For better or worse, it is a troubled nation. Look at the socio-economic statistics and the USA is now a second world country trailing its former partners in the first world. To the point where it is now difficult for even educated American’s to immigrate to first world nations.

    Sorry, but Wooster – in my view – is not the dream of attainment it once was. Irrespective of the propaganda promoted by the Admissions Office and the Wooster administration. — Best thing that could happen is to fire them all and hire hard working well rounded individuals from say the nonprofit world who are willing to work for a reasonable rate – not one that gives them a fancy new car every few years and saddles graduates with debt.

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