Amid COVID-19, can Georgia State online courses compete with community college?

As students prepare for the possibility of yet another semester online, some begin to question the value of Georgia State against a community college. This reality is much more apparent for undergraduate students completing lower-level courses. 

According to Community College Review, the average tuition for in-state students in a Georgia community college is $3,413 and $7,181 for out of state students in 2020. 

Georgia State, on the other hand, offers tuition at $4,474 for in-state students and $30,114 for out of state students for the 2018-2019 school year. 

So the question remains: is Georgia State really worth it in comparison to other local colleges? Specifically, as online classes and a hybrid system become apparent in the upcoming semester.

Students were quick to chime in offering both sides of the argument.

“Right now, I don’t find [Georgia State] an appealing option. Georgia State is a great school, and I appreciate that some of the staff have been accommodating,” Abdullah Shouaib said. 

He notes Georgia State’s efforts in providing an adequate amount of information with the Fall semester and appreciates the contingency plans they have put in place.

“However, the [University System of Georgia] has handled the crisis poorly, and it’s no surprise that if you ask around, there is a great deal of disillusionment among [Georgia State] students,” he said.

In the Spring semester, the University System of Georgia was pressured to implement a pass/fail system for students who struggled with classes switching online. The system was not adopted by the USG.

Shouaib has completed both his bachelor’s and master’s degree at Georgia State. He recognizes that the quality of core and introductory classes are no different from any other community college. 

“Now that colleges have become mostly online/hybrid, it only exacerbates the educational value of [Georgia State], especially since tuition and fees remain high for many students,” he said.

Steven Caruso, a senior at the Atlanta campus, thinks Georgia State doesn’t recognize its opportunity presented by its transition to online classes.

“When so many core classes moved seamlessly to the online format, it baffles me as to why the online alternative isn’t offered more often,” he said.

Caruso acknowledges the value in junior and senior-level classes that Georgia State offers, however, his opinion toward lower-level classes is to stick with another alternative: community college.

“Spending your first two years at Georgia State taking basic core classes is a waste of your money [and] I don’t think I could overstate this enough,” he said. “I’m positive I couldn’t experience a more average set of classes at a premium price.”

The frustration within the Panther community stems from the longstanding complaints that students have expressed in tuition prices and the quality of education offered, especially at the Atlanta campus. 

Andrea Jones, the associate vice president of public relations and marketing, recommends Georgia State’s Perimeter College as an alternative to the Atlanta campus’s costs. 

“This is your chance to start small and go big,” she said.

As Georgia State encounters its newest hurdle of possibly entering a hybrid class schedule in Fall 2020, time will tell how they wish to deal with the reality of retaining their students with the current tuition and class quality.