College is as much about chopping it up on campus with your classmates and professors as it is about getting a quality education. Even for those Ivy League overachievers, campus life is a crucially important part of the college experience, or at least, that’s what a college tells you while they’re reaching into your pockets for that sweet loan-based tuition money.
Which is why it’s come as a surprise to many that despite the fact that we’re about to enter an academic school year in which the vast majority of American students won’t be able to congregate in jam-packed classrooms and rub elbows in crowded campus quads, Harvard University plans on charging full tuition for the 2020-2021 school year. Granted, Harvard knows that expecting students to pay full tuition — which costs $49,653 for a full year at Harvard — for an arguably lesser college experience is a big ask, which is why they’re inviting 40% of undergraduates in their residential system to live on campus for the fall semester, including all first-year students, according to an announcement made by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Monday, July 6th.
However, all learning will still be done remotely for the entire academic year. According to the Harvard Gazette, students invited to the campus will experience a shortened semester that is scheduled to end just before Thanksgiving, when students will complete reading and exam periods from home.
Life on campus will still be very different than the typical Harvard experience, though. Students living on campus will be required to sign a contract and agree to new health screening measures, daily symptom checks, routine viral testing ever three days, voluntary participation in contact tracing, and will be subjected to mandatory mask-wearing on campus and physical distancing. In addition, dining areas and other non-residential buildings at Harvard will be closed, as well as recreational facilities, and physical spaces in the Harvard Library. Off-campus visitors will also be prohibited from entering the campus, including students enrolled who are not currently in residence.
Seniors and Juniors in residence at Harvard? They’re the most out of luck. The rest of the student body will continue to study away from campus and attend classes remotely, though those not invited to campus for the full year have been offered the opportunity to take two tuition-free courses for the Summer term in 2021, and those receiving financial aid will receive an additional $5,000 in remote room and board allowances.
In the event that a student on campus does contract the virus, Harvard will isolate and care for that student at the Harvard University Health Services. While Harvard is giving priority to first-year students for the fall semester, they’ll instead focus on reinviting seniors to the campus for their final semester before graduation while first-year students complete the second half of their year at home.
Soon after the announcement, many took to Twitter to criticize the university for expecting students to pay full price for a lesser experience. Harvard kids, if there was ever a year to take a gap year and serve your comminities, this is it!
Pretty nice acceptance letter you've got there. Pretty nice degree you might receive. Kind of a dream for you, I imagine. Would be a shame if somethin' were to happen to it. You don't want that. We here at Harvard don't want that. https://t.co/PBOef5eglr
— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) July 6, 2020
Also, gonna be frank.
IF HARVARD DOESN'T HAVE THE RESOURCES TO MAKE IN PERSON EDUCATION SAFE IN THE FALL, DO YOU SERIOUSLY THINK ANYONE ELSE DOES.
— Sarah Tuttle (@niais) July 6, 2020
No offense but if I was a college student right now at Harvard I would leave for a year and do some coursework at a local state school and save money. https://t.co/TISRz3DDFA
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) July 6, 2020
If any Harvard student agrees to this, I’m going to start questioning Harvard’s admission standards. https://t.co/IQXHZJNheF
— CJ Pearson (@thecjpearson) July 6, 2020
Harvard is right to hold all classes online to protect students, faculty, and staff from the coronavirus. But Harvard has a $41 billion endowment. It has a moral obligation to make tuition free for all its students. Same for Yale ($31 billion), Stanford ($28 billion), and others.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) July 6, 2020
Harvard is charging $50,000 a year for online only courses…
Meanwhile, there are $50 ebooks and $100 online courses that can net you $50,000+ a year, from your living room.
But people call the former a 'good education' and the latter a 'scam'.
— ZUBY: (@ZubyMusic) July 6, 2020
Will all Harvard employees,
temp workers included, receive full salary for the year? Cafeteria workers, custodians, every single one of them?
If not, there’s no way people should let this stand. https://t.co/T58X9ivBHB
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) July 6, 2020
Harvard can charge the same price (50k) because their product hasn't changed.
Their product isn't knowledge, skills, or social networks. If it was any of those remote classes would get in the way.
The product is a minor patent of nobility recognized by all bureaucracies.
— Samo Burja (@SamoBurja) July 6, 2020
So, Harvard, Yale, & Princeton are doing virtual education this fall? Good.
They should do virtual education every fall. Massively expanding undergraduate class size would be one of the fastest ways for elite schools to live up to their reputation as engines of opportunity.
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) July 6, 2020