Hofstra University sees its students as dollar signs. I say this knowing that there are countless administration and faculty members who truly do care for students, but as an institution, students are a profit margin. When I was a freshman coming to Hofstra, I had grand plans to take my basic math and language courses at my local community college to open my schedule up to more classes within my major at the university I had chosen.
This is a plan many students walk into college with, especially students that come from lower-income backgrounds and cannot afford to take any chances when it comes to graduating late. The policy ending this opportunity is only five years old. It was in full effect when I toured Hofstra, and its existence only hurts lower-income students. This was the first time I questioned how much Hofstra cared about its students, but it wouldn’t be the last.
Hofstra’s official statement regarding community college classes is as follows: “Like many peer institutions, Hofstra University does not allow current, matriculated students to take courses at other educational institutions, except in limited circumstances. Because course content varies significantly between institutions, this policy was implemented to ensure students get the full value and quality of Hofstra educational programs.”
This policy has a few problems. Many students upon coming to Hofstra are not aware that they will be denied the right to take community college courses. The classes students would take at community colleges, which usually cover distribution classes, do not differ extremely from institution to institution, and Hofstra already has placement or proficiency exams in place for writing, math and languages to ensure the students are actually qualified in the subjects. And of course the real kicker, Hofstra accepts transfer students from the locations that students would be utilizing. Why can current students not reap the same benefits, if the credits are proven to be transferable?
This policy is not just unfair, it is a direct attack on lower-income students. These students already struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle while they are bled dry by Hofstra’s increasingly expensive tuition, and are not even allowed to utilize the free or low-cost community colleges in their home states to get rid of distributions. The distance learning Hofstra speaks of will still cost any student $1,438 per credit hour. With most of the distributions being a minimum of three credits, lower-income students will be expected to shell out $4,314 to take a class over the summer, and this price is constantly increasing. For comparison, Nassau Community College, a community college right down the road, only costs $342 per credit hour. This is more than what most students could possibly earn from a paid internship over the summer.
This problem of the credit monopoly extends to students who are aiming to study abroad. Hofstra has very few semester-long study abroad programs that students can utilize tuition for. Most of the study abroad programs take place during summer or winter, where students are expected to spend upwards of $10,000 on a month-long program. If a student does attempt to utilize another school’s study abroad program, they may fall into a different issue.
Seniors must spend their last 30 credits in residence. So if you’re a senior hoping to study abroad at a cheaper rate, or with an actual full program, I hope you like running around to sixteen different departments to get one form signed. If you don’t, your graduation is placed on hold.
Hofstra wants to pretend it’s a school of opportunities. In a lot of ways it is, but at the end of the day the students continue to struggle and buckle under the weight of their debt. Hofstra’s monopoly on credits is a direct attack on lower-income students and sends a very clear message to them: You are not welcome here.
The views and opinions expressed in the Editorial section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors. The Chronicle reserves the right to not publish any piece that does not meet our editorial standards.