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What is causing RIC’s declining enrollment?

Isabella Santoro

Photography Editor

Image via ric.edu

It is no secret that enrollment here at RIC is down. Enrollment is expected to be down around 6% as of next year if these trends aren’t reversed. RIC President, Dr. Jack Warner, expects that this decline is due to college being too expensive, and rebuttals with the fact that tuition and fees totals to $11,000 a year. The cost isn’t nearly as much as other schools in this state such as URI, but it’s still expensive for many to afford.


Most college students work either part or full time while going to school, but one can only expect to make less than $24,000 a year, not including the reduction of taxes. Many students have to pay for their cars and other bills, taking thousands from this figure. If a student also pays for their college education at RIC by themselves, that’s nearly half of their yearly income gone. Once fees and textbooks are included, that adds a few hundred more dollars.


To put this into another perspective, if a student goes to RIC for at least eight semesters, they’re racking up a $44,000 bill. If that student doesn’t have the means to pay their tuition in full, which most students can’t do, some of, or all of that figure could turn into loans.


Depending on the size of a loan, students can expect to pay for their loans for up to 21 years or even longer. This could mean one is paying off a loan well into their adult life from a Bachelor’s degree alone. Add graduate school on top of that, which many programs require if you want to get a decent job, and that time is extended. This figure then balloons up to $66,000 in loans, give or take. It may be one of the cheaper options in this state, but by no means is it not expensive for most students to afford.


This is just one reason why students may not be enrolling at RIC, but there are a handful of other reasons. For example, RIC advertises itself as a four-year college, but most students do not graduate in four years, as there is a large number of credits required to graduate. Around 59% of students do not graduate college in four years in the United States, and we can imagine this goes for a lot of students at RIC.


RIC currently requires a student to complete 120 credits to graduate, meaning that a student should complete 30 credits a year, or roughly 15 a semester. This sounds simple enough, but some classes do not count for credits, or some aren’t four credits, but are still required. RIC requires over 10 general education courses such as sciences, math and history.


If a student wanted to complete all of their general education courses first, it would take more than two semesters, leaving only six more semesters to complete their desired degree. Some students could also have a minor along with their major, making it extremely difficult to graduate in a timely, four-year fashion. This is something that could throw off students from wanting to go to this college.


Some of the general education courses are not necessary for a well-rounded education. Most students will never be required to use a number of topics from the courses outside their majors once they enter the workforce post-graduation. Topics that are covered in some of these courses have already been taught to students, and they often end up frustrated having to sit in a classroom listening to material they learned in high school.


For me personally, I may not graduate on time because I am required to take courses which have absolutely nothing to do with my major in creative writing. For example, I will not use much math outside of college, and the math I know as of right now should be all I’ll need to understand. It seems absurd to make students take more courses unrelated to their majors, especially since they’ve taken these subjects since elementary school. If you have to pay for your college education, you should be learning new information, not sitting in a classroom being told what you already know.


Cutting some of these general education courses will not only help students graduate in less time, but also free them from having to pay for a course they have no use for. If the number was cut down to four or six courses, it would help ensure students finish their degree in four years.


Those two main obstacles in perspective make it easier to understand some of the reasons why enrollment is down at RIC.


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