The Ten-Step Guide to College Financial Aid By Zachary Freeman

Class Cancelled For The Day? No Thanks.

One of the most common thefts in the United States is time theft.  Whether you spend a little too much time at the water cooler or you just pee every ten minutes, we are all guilty of a little bit of time theft.  But perhaps no entity is guiltier of this than colleges and universities.  Let me be clear: what I am about to share is a widespread epidemic, not an isolated event.

According to The College Board, the average cost of tuition in the United States is $3,805 per semester for public, in-state schools, and $13,647 for private schools.  So let’s say that Carolyn attends the public school and Mike the private.  All of these costs are broken up according to a single semester.

Carolyn:                                                          Mike:

$3,805                                                            $13,647       Tuition

$1,400                                                            $1,400         Books

$3,000                                                           $3,000         Room and Board

$1,200                                                            $1,200         Meals

$9,505                                                          $19,247       Total

            Let’s assume that both students take a full load of classes.  Regardless of how many hours the student chooses to take, many universities will only charge up to twelve hours credit.  So let’s say that Carolyn and Mike are full-time students, taking twelve hours; they each have four classes for the semester.  If we do our math under the assumption that there are fifteen weeks in a semester, then each week at college will cost Carolyn $634 and Mike $1,283.

We stated earlier that they each take four classes (twelve hours total, each class is three hours) so that means that each class, regardless of how many times it meets per week, costs Carolyn $158 and Mike $321.  Let’s say that they both take all four of their classes on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule; it costs Carolyn $1.05 per minute to listen to her professors speak.  Mike?  He pays $2.14 per minute.  Wow, right?

Here is the frustrating part: most professors will only introduce themselves during the first week of classes and rarely teach relevant information; they never use the entire class period.  It’s very common to go to class for only thirty minutes the first day and then have off.  What does that cost?  Well getting out of her classes early the first day cost Carolyn about $50.  It cost Mike about $96.  But we’re happy about it?

We get excited when our professors cancel class for a dentist appointment or “personal day”.  Missing a class at all, whether its cancelled or we just choose to skip, costs Carolyn $79.  It costs Mike $161.  I’m not sure why no one ever talks about this, but I’m pretty sure if a hundred students got ripped off of $161, the university would have a riot on their hands.  Universities still gather revenue off of missed classes.  One class of one hundred students will gather revenue of about $16,000 per day for a private college.

Maybe it’s a good thing no one thinks about these things; colleges would be in legal battles constantly.  I don’t remember signing a contract that allowed the theft of time to be permissible in my college experience.

Moral of the story:  Colleges can be con artists.  Hold them accountable for teaching information for the duration of class and information that is relevant.  You’ll get out of your education what you put into it, assuming there is information to be had and your university and professors have an obligation to make up time to you that you paid good money for.

Some days I think it would be wiser to self-educate on Wikipedia all day long for free down at Starbucks.


For more information about Zachary or his book, please visit



2 responses

  1. Sara Yori

    Very well said! I hate it when my instructor(s) cancel a class out of the blue because they have a doctor’s appointment or meeting. They could at least have a make-up class for the one we students had to miss. Tuition isn’t cheap, and my time is valuable to me. Colleges and universities are just another money stealing business. Even parking is shockingly expensive.

    August 27, 2011 at 12:01 am

  2. Pingback: Class Warfare in College « Free Money Please

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s