The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a myriad of challenges to the world of education. Despite growing concerns about the rising costs of education, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced universities to invest heavily in technology, at additional significant cost to institutions. However, as great leaders say, tough times can be used as a litmus test to judge character. The pandemic has similarly separated some of the best educational institutions around the world from the rest. An example of an institution passing this litmus test is Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), located in New Jersey.
COVID-19 brought several challenges for both students and parents including financial challenges. Being a highly recognized university with a strong track record of supporting students, FDU decided to freeze tuition rates for current students for two consecutive years (in 2020 and again in 2021), provided significant discounts for summer and winter courses, and then reduced its tuition fee by a quarter for incoming students, all to meet rising financial challenges for students and parents alike. However, this is not the first time the university has invested in the financial future of its students. According to U.S News & World Report, the University was ranked the 16th best value school in the North. Moreover, Money post also determined it to be among the” best colleges for your money.” FDU promises to build this legacy further with continued improvement in its educational offerings while continuing to take important measures to improve affordability.
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Quality Education as a Future Investment
The University is known for its highly-ranked academic programs with a wide range of majors like nursing, engineering, accounting, computer science and theatre arts, to mention a few. Innovative programs are also offered through the Silberman College of Business, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the International School of Hospitality, Sports and Tourism Management, among others. COVID-19 has been an unfortunate development for the university which had built strong momentum in the rankings. The University has climbed 30 spots in recent years to reach the top-50 rankings among best colleges in the North region of the U.S.
Many may see the tag of “best value for your money” as a relative term for investing in education. However, this is a key distinction for most parents and students. Higher education in the United States continues to be plagued with higher debt for students and worsening job market conditions. However, there is also promising news for quality higher education. According to the Federal Reserve, rising unemployment during COVID-19 is another sign of rising demand for college graduates. During this crisis, the unemployment rates for those with and without a college degree grew from 2.2% to 8.8%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that in August, graduates with only a high-school diploma were almost twice as likely to be unemployed during COVID-19 than college graduates.
A Wise Investment During Uncertain Tides
According to the President of FDU, Dr. Christopher A. Capuano, one of the key differentiators for quality education boils down to classroom size for students and a high level of personal support. Small classes naturally offer a safe space for students to engage in an effective manner. Moreover, he believes the rising emphasis on industry-specific skills is where FDU excels. “Most of our programs work closely with alumni and industry leaders. This ensures that academic requirements keep pace with real-world core demands. Moreover, no matter what the field of study is, FDU students graduate with the career-ready skills essential to succeed,” states Capuano.
The University aims to expand its wings further in this crisis with new educational programs. “All our programs have adapted over the years to the changing needs of our students and our society, and new programs in areas like animation and cybersecurity have been launched to respond to new technologies and career opportunities,” asserts Capuano.
An Umbrella of Promising Academic Programs
Capuano envisions FDU to be a place where students engage in a range of activities and are provided with all necessary resources to fulfill their college experience. He believes this will empower students to engage with a sense of community, learn lifelong lessons and build lifelong relationships. Hence, FDU makes its Career Development Center a key priority and provides tremendous support to its students.
Apart from FDU’s undergraduate offerings of more than 100 programs, the University also provides professional degree programs in nursing practice, clinical psychology, pharmacy, and school psychology. Additionally, it also offers a highly in-demand liberal arts program. Today, FDU has campuses in New Jersey (Florham Park and Teaneck), the United Kingdom (Wroxton) and Canada (Vancouver) and proudly has special ties with the United Nations— testimony to the University’s investment in this long held vision.
A Strong Foundational Philosophy
The founder of FDU, Peter Sammartino, believed in creating an educational experience based on multicultural understanding. He envisioned FDU as a place where students make meaningful connections with each other, the local community and the world to begin their lifelong journeys.
According to Capuano, FDU’s recent decision to lower fees is in line with its vision of being an institution “of and for the world.” Dr. Sammartino envisioned the University as a place to prepare students to make a real impact on the world.
The Journey Ahead
The world of education will continue to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic as students miss out on a traditional educational experience. As the pandemic lays out a challenging and critical path for educators worldwide, the issue of safety and offering a sense of community to students will be more important than ever.
Greater access and affordability were important priorities before the COVID-19 outbreak and now, with the increasing financial toll on students and families, they have gained new urgency. FDU will continue to make important investments in innovative programs, while providing students with a high level of personal support and numerous opportunities to open new doors.
Capuano has led the University to offer improved access to an affordable education. “Our goal is to provide more access and opportunities to our students. The value of FDU education is well-demonstrated. By making our education more accessible, we will be making a world of difference to future generations,” says Capuano.
The Success Mantra
The foundational mantra of democratizing education, while providing quality education as a private entity is a difficult balancing act. At the moment, there is much debate in the U.S. about the rising costs of higher education and its significant benefits. However, the U.S. is a magnet for students all over the world for quality higher education. The success of FDU provides a peek into why this is.
FDU remains ahead of educational trends and emphasizes collaborative learning as the foundation of education. This foundation is essential for seeking and building a world which anticipates tomorrow’s problems before they occur. FDU’s strong academic programs help to foster and create a community which accepts, inspires, motivates and guides everyone to build a promising world for its students and community alike.
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