Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Enrollment and Facebook thoughts

Yesterday we had 850 visitors for our winter preview day - over 300 were prospective students and they brought along the various adult figures in their lives. We had a steady stream of parents coming through our office and most had tragic economic circumstances; bankruptcy, unemployment, divorce, illness....these really are such difficult times for so many people. In financial aid we have often relied on the recommendation that parents use home equity to cover their portion of the costs, but we are seeing many situations where the debt equals (or exceeds) the value of the home. Folks in their 50s do not have any retirement savings and families who have spent a lifetime in small, specialized businesses are now without a business or an income.

And I wonder why I am depressed? More than ever I am encouraging students to consider another alternative to this fine private education - in some cases it just is not possible and to encourage students to take on 70, 80 or even 90 thousand in student loans is unethical, and feels criminal. Fortunately no one has said (yet) that they are just going to "enroll on faith that God will provide" - I have heard that before and cringe for so many reasons.

And so we wonder what we will learn on May 1st when admission deposits are due. Will we have a class that exceeds our goal, or will we be beating the bushes and increasing scholarships to fill the class? We have over 5500 applications for a class of 450 and with the response we had yesterday it is easy to be optimistic, but these are not usual times. This photo shows happy students playing on the quad with the State Capitol in the background.

Some thoughts on Facebook....I have recently gotten re-connected with numerous high school classmates and each day feels like homecoming. I resisted FB for awhile but have finally surrendered to the allure of an on-line community. But there are still aspects I find puzzling. Today a friend announced a new relationship to me but explained that they are taking it slow, "so slow that facebook status says 'it's complicated.'" As if the status on FB is the ultimate definition of things...but it seems so for the current population of young adults. They will update their relationship status within moments of starting to date someone, or especially after a break-up. The reality that this generation lives in is so foreign to middle-aged parents. Although, when I got married last month I was quick to note that on my own profile....ack!

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