Access to higher education is increasingly seen as a right. Yet while 90 million adults are without a degree, and our standard of living is falling, barriers are being erected which impede access. The largest obstacle is cost. Four years of tuition can exceed the price of a new home in 2003 ($207,000). Simultaneously, state and local governments are reducing their spending on higher education.
But cost is not the only barrier. Institutions are limiting access in other ways. Increased admissions selectivity is seen as a way to burnish an institution’s reputation and increase its national ranking. By limiting admissions to those with the highest GPAs, colleges position themselves as more prestigious. Additionally, strong students are easier to teach and more likely to graduate.
Higher graduation rates appease politicians, regulators and accreditors while drawing plaudits from the media. This is important as the federal government asks what it is getting for its billions of dollars in financial aid. Recruiting is also easier for a selective institution. With private schools, they see less resistance to high tuition as students associate selectivity and high price with quality.
If prestige is the enemy of access, does it follow that those offering access to returning adults compromises quality? No! <Read more.>