Today President Obama announced his plan to help students select colleges via a new federal ratings system based on best value, to increase college competition, and help students manage their college costs.
Like the government and federal programs, colleges can make changes at any time. Not all changes benefit students.
It’s a bad start to a new school year when a campus closes. Parents and their college students planning to attend a Long Island school have to cope with this situation as of Tuesday and classes start Sept 3.
Dowling College, a small liberal arts school, has two campuses that are now in the process of merging. Students who expected to attend some classes on the Brookhaven, New York location and live in that dormitory will no longer be able to do so. According to Newsday yesterday, Dowling’s drastic move hopes “to solve its continuing financial and enrollment problems” and “envision(s) the Brookhaven campus into a center for graduate programs for ‘midcareer’ professionals seeking advanced degrees.”
Although Brookhaven athletic facilities will still be used, “food and student services and the library at Brookhaven have either been closed or will close,” Newsday reported.
Aviation Management is one of the popular majors at Dowling and Dowling College School of Aviation is situated at Brookhaven Airport. Some aviation classes will move to the Oakdale campus but others requiring special equipment will remain at the Brookhaven campus.
Cost of change
The consolidation of facilities from two campuses into one will have a great impact on students.
Those who planned to reside in the Brookhaven dorm must relocate to Oakdale dormitories or find other living arrangements in an area without a lot of affordable private housing options.
Although a shuttle operates between the two campuses, students will have to spend extra time out of a busy schedule traveling to certain classes. According to Dowling’s website, “91% of all students work either full or part-time.” Add in time for clubs, sports and studying and there is little wiggle room for anything else.
Students and parents have to adjust to a new educational plan on short notice. It adds to the stress of taking care of the usual last minute back to school errands. Students found out about the campus closing on Tuesday from Dowling interim president Norman Smith’s email.
New college ratings
On an education-based road trip in New York and Pennsylvania, President Barack Obama described a new federal college ratings system as part of a broader economic agenda. The Department of Education will develop the system.
He raised the possibility of linking financial aid to ranking based on value. Since billions of dollars of financial aid are at stake and institutions of higher learning are in every state, Congress may not agree with this change. Currently, the complicated formula for need-based federal programs are applied to income, asset and personal information supplied on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The best bang for the educational buck is not currently part of the equation.
Students who would have chosen not to apply or attend Dowling College if they had known about the new changes may be frustrated. For the fall semester, other educational options are limited.
However, accepting situations and making the best of it is a great learning experience. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, it is important to remember the ultimate higher education goal is to earn a diploma, gain knowledge, and have a career. The question is, “Does Dowling still meet student needs despite the changes?”
When it comes, the proposed new federal ratings system should help provide answers to college choice decisions.
Make lemonade from lemons and have a great school year. Read on for Tips for a new school/year.
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