by Neil Chyten
How do you figure? Enrollment for Harvard’s class of 2024 is down 20% while the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is having a record-breaking fall admission season. Overall, Wisconsin welcomes in 7300 new freshman this year, second only to last year’s record-breaking 7550 incoming freshman class. Meanwhile, COVID-19 outbreaks involving tens of thousands of students are occurring with increased frequency at college campuses across the country causing many to scrap their plans for in-person classes. This, in turn, has prompted hundreds of lawsuits from students who feel that the tuition they are paying is too high for online learning. What a mess! Further west, the University of California system is fighting accusations that 64 more students were enrolled unethically, posing as recruitable athletes while having none of the requisite athletic skills needed, or because their families were wealthy donors. In other words, this is a Varsity Blues continuation, where unethical individuals have used money and influence to gain admission to elite colleges such as UC Berkeley and UCLA. And, if the news about college and COVID-19 is not bad enough, there are now accusations that the CDC, the Center for Disease Control – arguably one of the most prestigious organizations in the world dedicated to fighting dangerous human illnesses – was unduly coerced into changing its messaging with respect to the virulence of COVID-19 for students so that schools would feel pressure to reopen prematurely. Also, many colleges do not trust the CDC due to the political influence it now endures. According to Inside Higher Ed reporter Elizabeth Redden, “reports of political interference in the public health agency’s scientific processes over the past month are raising discomforting questions of whether and to what degree colleges can trust the CDC.” Will the world of education ever be normal again?