It’s no secret that many colleges and universities are terrified that large numbers of high school seniors will go online for their first year of college in Fall 2020, resulting in scores of semi-deserted brick-and-mortar campuses around the nation.
As it turns out, higher education is not being paranoid.
Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released the results of a study indicating that virtually every college-bound senior in the United States plans to attend Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), an online behemoth, in September.
According to Pew Director of Survey Research Courtney Kennedy, “the only students who aren’t going to SNHU in the Fall are those who have been accepted by an Ivy League school or Liberty University, an evangelical Christian institution in Virginia. What this means is that well over 2.5 million new students will enroll at SNHU over the next few months.”
The school’s Chief Marketing Officer, Alana Burns, is confident that SNHU will be ready for them: “We already serve about 87,000 online students. Adding 2 or 3 million more should not be a problem. As we like to say at SNHU, “We’ve got the bandwidth, if you’ve got the tuition.”
Couldn’t such a gigantic shift of students to one institution undermine the very foundations of higher education in America?
When SNHU President Paul LeBlanc was asked this question by a reporter, his response was immediate: “Well, I certainly hope so. At SNHU, we’re all about market dominance. We have no quarrel with the Ivy League educating the future Masters of the Universe. We just want to educate everyone else, or at least give them credentials. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
What will happen to all those administrators, faculty, and staff now working at other institutions?
“Let’s face it,” LeBlanc observed, “the pandemic is likely to be with us for at least the next decade. Do you have any idea how huge the demand is going to be for front-line, low-wage, underinsured health care workers? These folks don’t grow on trees, you know. It’s time for the higher education workforce to reinvent itself. By the way, our new B.S. program in Ventilator Maintenance and Repair begins in January 2021. If you’re a Literature Professor accustomed to teaching honors seminars with titles like Crucifixion Imagery in 16th-Century French Poetry, it might be a good idea to take off your Proustian wire-rim glasses, empty into the sink your shot glass full of absinthe, and get yourself a Pell Grant. Spring 2021 classes begin on January 5th, and the SNHU application deadline is January 4th.”
Faculty near and far, please say hello to the future.