Have you ever heard of using a coupon for college? As the economy continues to tank, couponing (the use of coupons when paying for products or services) has become more and more prevalent with Americans. Years ago, housewives were the main target market for companies producing coupons for their products. College students have used their student ID cards for discounts on travel, electronics and at local restaurants. But the thought of using a coupon for college would never occur to most families or prospective students.

Groupon for college

Students weren’t seen as coupon clippers until Groupon entered the retail market. Groupon made it easy for anyone with a smartphone to get daily deals on their phones and purchase these deals at a discount. National Louis University, a college with strong teacher education credentials, decided to take advantage of this new-found obsession. The college rolled out its first-ever Groupon offer last month when it offered a 57% discount on an entry-level graduate teaching course. The 3-credit introductory course was open to 25 buyers charging $950 for a course that originally costs $2332. When the deal ended on September 14th, 17 people took advantage of the Groupon being offered in the Chicago area.

However, not everyone was impressed by this tactic to procure students. GOOD/Education speaks out against this offer:

Call me old-fashioned, but you can figure out if you want to be a teacher for free. Thanks to budget cuts, schools are pretty short-staffed, so if you want some field experience, all you have to do is call a school and ask to volunteer in a classroom. You’ll be able to talk to teachers about the pros and cons of the profession and learn how to earn your credential. Or you could head to the library and check out one of the many books written by teachers after their first year in the classroom, or read online about the issues and trends impacting the field.

Studentactivism.net decided to chime in as well:

Sounds amazing, but the full story isn’t quite as impressive.The offer is for one graduate-level course. Not one course as in “any one course,” but one course as in “one particular course.” A course that was concocted specifically for the Groupon promotion. It does apply toward a master’s in teaching, but only if, after completing it, you apply for, are accepted to, and enroll in NLU. (Given the nature of the class, it’s hard to imagine it being accepted as transfer credit at any other school.) All in all, this “deal” is clearly more a marketing initiative than an educational innovation.

The opponents of this type of offer have expressed their concern not only about the use of the Groupon, but about the type of course being offered. But imagine the press exposure this coupon created and the buzz about the university itself just because they pioneered this offer. Whether or not you agree with this strategy, you have to agree that this might just be a groundbreaking tactic for some unknown colleges to gain some exposure in social media and in the blogosphere, not to mention the national media.

Deep discounts being offered

In the past, most colleges have offered excellent candidates for admission grants and scholarships toward the cost of their tuition. But next year, Seton Hall University will be offering a 2/3 discount on tuition, a discount of $21,000. According to national experts on admissions and financial aid, this policy is the first of its kind. When asked why they are offering this deep discount now, Seton Hall’s president, Gabriel Esteban explained:

“The primary motivation has been that as we go through what looks like a double-dip recession, we wanted to help our students,” But in addition, he said, “it probably will help us in attracting a certain quality of students.”

As tuition rises and so many are unable to afford college, colleges are searching for ways to reduce the cost to incoming students and attract new students. Would you purchase a Groupon deal for college? Or is that just too far fetched for you to consider?

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