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Hidden class costs burden students

Hidden class costs burden students

By Nathaniel Shahan

The price of tuition at Kenyon is $45,500 per year — not including the $13,390 in combined costs for room, board and student fees, nor the added costs of school supplies. At the beginning of each semester, students generally expect to spend several hundred dollars on books, but the exact prices remain unknown until the start of the semester when professors announce reading lists.

Elizabeth Norman ’16 is currently enrolled in Installation Art and Printmaking — two classes that require students to purchase their own materials, though no textbook is required. In Printmaking, students purchase their own ink and supplies from the College. Knowing that a single mistake could cost a significant amount of money, Norman explained that it can be nerve wracking to use materials she paid for. For Printmaking, students have the option to supplies through the Kenyon Bookstore, with the money being deducted from their K-Cards. In Installation Art, students create two installations throughout the semester and must purchase their own construction materials. Norman estimates she spent about $90 on materials for her first piece, and expects to spend a similar amount on her second. Some academic textbooks can run as much as $200, but Norman said that buying materials all semester is a different feeling than swiping a K-Card once at the beginning of the semester, and that it is “weird” to spend cash on cash materials in comparison to the ease of using a K-Card.

Norman said that, when planning projects, students have to bear in mind the cost. Sometimes students think, “This is what I would like to do … [but] if I can’t do it in a way that is cheap, I don’t want to do it.” she expressed that, going into the class, she was not aware how expensive the projects would be, though even if she had, she would have still taken the course. She also believes that worrying about costs associated with your work makes the experience feel less collegiate, and more lik eworking as a professional.

Emma Brown ’17 enrolled in Photography I last semester, for which she had to purchase photo paper and film. In an email to the Collegian, Brown called the costs “significant,” saying she had to purchase around 125 pieces of photo paper at $1 per sheet and over 10 rolls of film, which cost between $7 and $8 per roll.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Studio Art Emily Zeller ’08 said the photography faculty is upfront about the high costs, but said that these costs are not potentially unreasonable.

This is Zeller’s first year teaching the course but said that none of her students dropped the class when they learned about the costs, though some expressed concerns. “It’s unfortunate that it can be limiting to some students,” Zeller said.

In language classes, many students must purchase both a textbook and an access code to an online site that accompanies the text. Matthew Williamson ’18 felt lucky when a friend who had taken Intermediate French last year gave him his book, but he soon learned he would have to spend between $80 and $120 on the accompanying online materials. “I didn’t really save any money beyond what I was expecting to spend,” Williamson said.

Visiting Assistant Professor of French Monica Garoiu’s view is that the online “supersite,” which is more expensive than the physical workbook students used in the past, gives students more access to materials. While the textbook and site code run over $200 per semester, Garoiu notes that, “it’s a fair price if you compare them to other books,” Garoui said. “I feel that they are high prices, but that’s the market.”

Director of Financial Awid Craig Daugherty says that the price of books is factored into student’s financial aid packages and that the College works with the Kenyon College Bookstore each year to determine a fair amount. In most cases, they estimate in around $1900 for the academic year, which is considered into to the total cost of Kenyon when financial aid packages are determined. Students students request additional money for a course only “a couple of times” and “it doesn’t happen a lot,” according to Daugherty, but “if a student can document that they have spent additional monies on books and supplies, over and above the $950 amount that is budgeted [per semester], we can allow them to take out additional loan dollars.”

The hidden costs of many classes are significant, but students contended that they are not outrageous. Garoiu pointed out that the additional materials can be used longer and provide a better educational experience. Zeller also noted that Kenyon students actually have a decent deal, as the College purchases the chemicals for film development and students doing prints for digital photography buy ink and paper from the College at the same price the supplies are purchased for. And Norman also added that there are options to reduce the price of sculptures by purchasing cheaper materials but she said that going in, “you don’t realize until you get there how much that [the materials] is going to cost” and this seems to be the biggest issue for students, not realizing when registering, what their classes will cost them.

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