View from my Window
As I write, the enrollment season is in full swing at York College and around the country. Families are considering their options, and colleges and universities are welcoming potential students. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that “affordability, availability of a desired program, reputation/academic quality, career outcomes/job opportunities, value of education for cost, feeling of fit, and proximity to home” are prospective students’ main considerations when choosing a college. While all of these criteria are important, in my experience “fit” is just as important as any of the others. At York College, we provide numerous opportunities for students to explore their fit with us.
In the past several months, I have had an opportunity to talk with alumni from classes as early as 1971 as well as with current students. When asked why they chose York College, the reason they gave invariably boiled down to that intangible feeling of “fit.”
Recently, the Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released a new policy proposal for free public college education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The program, named The Pennsylvania Promise, would provide tuition and fees to needs-based students who enroll full time at community colleges or at any of the 14 universities in the state system. It would also offer various grants, depending on family income, to students attending state-related universities. This renewed focus on increasing our investment in the next generation is promising, but it would not extend to students seeking an education at private institutions such as York College.
Might the allure of a free college education be difficult to overcome, even if an institution is clearly not the right fit for a student and stands ill-equipped to help them succeed, both on campus and throughout their careers? The Pennsylvania Promise addresses only one aspect: cost.
York College provides a rewarding, high-quality private education for our students. No, a York College education is not free, but we work to make our personalized brand of education as affordable as possible. We believe, and our students verify, that York College is the best fit for those seeking unrivaled preparation for fulfilled lives and careers.
American education in general, and specifically in Pennsylvania, is exceptional with respect to offering a variety of educational options. However, rather than having students choose between institutions solely based on cost, our investment in higher education should foster a student’s ability to choose what is best for them.
After all, when it comes to education, fit matters. One size doesn’t fit all.
Pamela Gunter-Smith, Ph.D.
President, York College of Pennsylvania