What if you had to put the financial cost of your course on your syllabus right next to the day and time of class meetings? What if you had to provide the projected future value of the skills and knowledge developed in your course, as well? Would your course look like a good investment? Today Inside Higher Ed reported that for-profit vocational schools that want to qualify for federal financial aid have to justify their students investment in their programs by proving that the money students will owe when they leave school won’t be more than 8% of their income as professionals. Proponents of the requirement see it as a matter of consumer information; students should be discouraged from making imprudent investments.
It’s an interesting way of accounting. Sometimes we forget that education isn’t just an investment of time, but a real financial burden for our students. We may lament that they are so career-focused, not invested in the world of ideas, but maybe it’s because they leave school with real financial needs. I wondered how it would change the attitudes of teachers and students if the cost of the time we spend in class, the resources and mentoring we provide our students were highly transparent? What if each homework assignment and day of class had a price listed next to it, and a description of the promised value of these activities. Would our students buy it, day to day?