I am happy to report that this Wednesday the 20th of January, 3 Burlington-area private colleges have gotten closer to true educational sharing for the benefit of degree-seeking undergraduates attending Burlington College, Champlain College or St. Michael’s College. These colleges are now allowing undergraduates to take engaging courses on any of the three campuses as long as an advisor signs off on this plan; no additional charge will be required to be paid which is good news to students who are already somehow financing their four-year degrees at prices that are for lack of a better term “prohibitive for the middle class.” The three private colleges list their yearly tuition costs within the following ranges: $20,425 at Burlington College, $25,850 at Champlain College, and $32,940 at St. Michael’s College.
As an adjunct instructor at all of these institutions, I have found that faculty are all dedicated and student focused, yet experiencing classroom diversity at various locations while trying out different academic environments is probably beneficial for all students. Experiencing unique institutions during the same semester is perhaps the ultimate learning style differentiation.
Students who want to pursue the option of cross-college registration will be limited to one course per semester for which they’re qualified. In addition, only campus-based courses are eligible (no on-line classes are covered). Also, there will be no payments exchanged among the institutions.
The three colleges belong to the 17 members of the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, which has been exploring campus sharing for a time, said Susan Stitely, the association’s president.
David Finney, president of Champlain College, said in a news piece that he hoped the arrangement would serve as a model for other Vermont institutions.
“Our proximity to each other and the different course offerings at each of our schools make this a great way to enhance our students’ experience and learning while enabling our individual institutions to keep our own unique qualities,” Finney said.
These same ideas were echoed by both Jane Sanders, President of Burlington College and John Neuhauser, President of Saint Michael’s College respectively. Sanders believes that college attendance patterns are changing and that many students move around, attending more than one school before they graduate.
The new three-way program is under way now, but because most students had previously chosen their courses for the spring term, the colleges expect more students will take advantage of cross-registration beginning in the fall. The hope was for at least eight to 10 cross-registrants at each school each semester.
Karen Tarantino, vice president for academic affairs at St. Michael’s, said that the initiative is prompted in part by the harsh economic climate and rising college costs, she said. She went on to state that “We believe that this first step in collaboration may lead to other cost-sharing activities that will allow all of our institutions to be more efficient and more effective,” she said, adding, “We are talking about possible collaborations on study abroad opportunities, academic study trips, international recruitment and possible faculty collaborations.” All of these initiatives will help students experience more diversity and learning models.