BALTIMORE — As students prepare to head back to college this fall, many may find some or all of their classes being held online as a precaution during the pandemic.
It has parents and students asking what’s being done to make sure they getting the education they paid for and what to do if they aren't satisfied with the quality.
Depending upon where a student goes to school, a university may welcome back students on campus or students might have to continue to learn from a distance.
Sitting in front of a laptop certainly is not what most students had in mind as part of their college experience when they decided to earn a degree.
University of the Potomac president and CEO Dr. Clinton Gardner said “these students and parents are balking at the idea of paying $50,000 a year or $25,000 a semester for what is primarily an online experience, meaning that parents, don't really like the idea of their sons and daughters taking classes online and in the bedroom of their homes.”
Some schools made the transition online better than others when the pandemic first hit.
As the head of the University of the Potomac, Gardner explained his school had a head start as a hybrid school as it was already operating with many classes online ,and others in-person in a classroom.
“We don't anticipate any changes to our curriculum, to our employees, and to the quality of the instruction that we provide to our students,” Garner said.
It's no secret the online experience is not the experience students at most schools signed up for.
It's a fact not lost on one of the seven associations to accredit the nation's institutions, Middle States Commission on Higher education president Dr. Heather Perfetti.
“Any institution that envisions needing to deliver programs beyond December by distance education will need to get approval from us using our regular and established policies and procedures for doing that,” Perfetti said.
Meanwhile, Perfetti ensures even though the method of teaching changed in the move to online instruction at many schools, she believes the quality of education has not.
“We’ve not waived any of our requirements institutions must meet from a standards perspective. It really is about some of the more immediate approvals that institutions needed to keep their academic programs a float and to ensure that students did not have interruptions in their studies,” Perfetti said.
Morgan State University vice-president of student affairs Dr. Kevin Banks recognizes the move towards online learning wasn't a smooth transition for all students.
“A lot of our students unfortunately didn’t have access to Wi-Fi, so being on the campus is needed for some of our students. having access to the computer lab is really important,” Banks said.
Few schools lose their accreditation but it can happen. Still, if students aren't satisfied with the changes happening with their education, there is an outlet for their concerns.
“We also have a process that students and parents can bring to us concerns they may have about an institution. We’ve always had that process. That’s nothing new and we would process those in accordance with our policies and procedures,” Perfetti said.
Before bringing a complaint about a college or university to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Perfetti recommends to have a conversation with your school administrators first.