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LJWorld.com weblogs Heard on the Hill

Skipping class costs KU students as much as $70 each time

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The University Daily Kansan published an interesting little math project today: How much tuition money are KU students throwing out the window if they skip class?

The newspaper crunched some numbers to figure out how much students are paying per individual lecture or class meeting, and therefore how high the "cost" is for skipping a day's worth of class at a time when higher education has never been more expensive.

A first-time freshman paying in-state tuition this year is throwing away about $18.30 if she skips a class that meets three times a week, the Kansan calculated, or about $27.40 if it's a class that meets twice a week. For out-of-state first-year freshmen this year, the cost is steeper: $47.60 per class session if it meets three times a week, or $71.40 if it meets twice a week.

(Those numbers have to be specified for first-time freshmen because of KU's Four-Year Tuition Compact, which locks students in at a steady tuition rate set before their freshman year. For, say, a senior, the cost per class would be a bit lower, because students who started at KU in fall 2009 when tuition was lower are still paying a lower rate now.)

Some KU schools, including business and journalism, charge higher tuition rates, making those courses more costly to skip.

And, of course, tuition is far from the only college expense. Students are also paying for room and board, fees, books and more.

You could probably have an interesting philosophical discussion about what students are really paying for when they pay tuition — are they paying for the time spent in class, or more for the knowledge and skills they gain from the whole experience, or really more for the credit they receive at the end, if they're a bit more cynical? But whatever the case, the math is interesting to think about.

You know, something that definitely doesn't cost you anything is sending your KU news tips to us. Send them to merickson@ljworld.com, but not during class. (Unless your instructor has assigned you to do so, in which case: Bravo, instructor!)

Comments

question4u 1 year, 9 months ago

Is it really the case that all tuition pays just for in-class time? No percentage goes toward things like the library budget, wireless service on campus, staff, utilities, or anything else that keeps the university up and running? If students are benefiting from any of those things (if they are paid for with tuition money) then the cost of missing a class would clearly be lower, perhaps significantly lower, than reported.

KU_cynic 1 year, 9 months ago

Here's a more interesting way to look at the math and that $70/class session figure:

20 students each pay $70 per 75-minute session with an experienced professor leading a thought-provoking upper elective class. That's $1400 in total per class -- perhaps a bargain, and a class not worth skipping regardless of the cost.

300 students each pay $70 per 75-minute session with a mass-produced lecture class taught by an adjunct. That's $21,000 in total per class -- seems overpriced yet probably a class that can be occasionally skipped without much consequence.

parrothead8 1 year, 9 months ago

In your random sample, it seems highly unlikely that all 20, or all 300, students are out-of-state students in classes that meet twice a week.

Your generalization about experienced professors vs. adjuncts also seems highly unlikely, for the simple reasons that many adjuncts have as much experience, education, and training as "experienced professors."

Phillbert 1 year, 9 months ago

You don't have the right numbers. It's 5th highest and only $25 a semester. http://studentsenate.ku.edu/funding/fees/

It's approved by the students, so if you don't like it complain to them to get rid of it.

Bob Forer 1 year, 9 months ago

Individual, isolated classes have very little intrinsic value in and of themselves. Rational folks pay tuition to acquire a degree by acquiring marketable skills. Missing one or more classes does not necessarily diminish the final goal. The methodology used is flawed. If one misses ten percent of their college classes but still graduates-- which isn't hard to do-- the value of that diploma is not necessarily diminished by ten per cent.

Grade school logic, if you ask me. Nonetheless it doesn't shock me, considering it's coming from a bunch of college students attending a third rate university..

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 9 months ago

It is all about taking advantage of opportunities.

Class lectures are an opportunity to learn above and beyond the text book and assigned materials.

Many students choose to not take advantage of this.

After all, students are not paying tuition to attend classes. They are paying tuition to earn a degree.

My guess is that many lectures by "experienced KU professors" are not really worth attending anyway, especially in the humanities. Learning how to BS and mislead is really not learning at all.

jonas_opines 1 year, 9 months ago

Hmmm. . . how much over-thinking is one UDK fluff piece worth?

Ken Lassman 1 year, 9 months ago

The flip side of all of this, of course, is that if folks had to put down some cash for a class each time they arrived at the door, how many out-of-state students would feel good at the end of the class period that they had just plunked down $70 for that hour-and-one-half session? Considering you can now get online free ivy league classes on youtube, it's certainly worth pondering.

notajayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

First, this assumes knowledge is something that can be quantified and doled out in equal portions - i.e., that you will gain 100 units of knowledge over the course of the semester and that each class session will provide you with an equal number of units. Second, if the class sessions are all you're paying for, then why do they make you buy those ridiculously expsnsive textbooks?

jonas_opines 1 year, 9 months ago

You bought the textbooks? Screw that noise.

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