“Free classes! Free parking! Prime dorm rooms! More cash!

The more they worry about whether students in this year of the coronavirus will show up in the fall, the more admissions officers responsible for filling seats at colleges and universities have started sounding like the salesmen on late-night TV infomercials.

“The gloves have come off,” said Angel Pérez, vice president for enrollment and student success at Trinity College in Connecticut, who laments this trend. “You’re talking about a scenario where colleges need to enroll students at any cost.”

But wait! There’s more!

Put down a deposit and, at some schools, your tuition will never go up. Like to sleep in? Other colleges will give you early registration privileges so you don’t get stuck with morning classes. Still others are waiving fees and throwing in free food, free football tickets, even free books autographed by celebrity faculty in residence.

All of this, of course, is driven by the existential threat that too few students will sign on for college this fall because of the pandemic, which is wrecking family finances and raising fears that campuses will not reopen anyway, forcing classes to continue to be taught online.

In a twist of timing, some of the inducements being offered also are a consequence of a Justice Department action that forced university and college admissions officers to drop key parts of their professional code of ethics, which prohibited many of these kinds of appeals and banned colleges from going after each other’s students, on the grounds that such restraints discouraged competition.

“It’s incredibly ironic that this is really the first class that’s been affected by that change,” said Gregory Eichhorn, vice president for enrollment and student success at the University of New Haven, who called what’s happening this spring a “free for all.”

Joan Koven, an educational consultant outside Philadelphia who helps high school seniors get into college, was at the meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, or NACAC, in September, when the ethics code was changed in response to Justice Department pressure.”

Read the full article at HechingerReport.com.

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