Even during normal semesters, students shouldn’t have to worry about having to pay to do their homework assignments. During a pandemic and a national recession, this should definitely not be on their list of stressors.
Professors must abandon using external platforms that require students to pay for access to assignments. Making students pay to access mandatory assignments that comprise a large percentage of their grade is extremely unfair and inconsiderate.
In theory, tuition should be enough to cover all materials students need for the courses they are taking, but students also pay for required textbooks, which can be quite expensive. Professors must recognize that the majority of their students are constantly under financial constraints, and they should keep these factors in mind before making mandatory assignments another fee for students to worry about.
In classes that I have taken in previous semesters, I have made a variety of mandatory purchases for assignments. These purchases varied from an app that charged a monthly subscription fee to a $100 access code that was necessary to complete all of the assignments for the class. I know I’m not the only student who has to deal with these extra costs.
“I’m in a digital marketing course and our professor required the class to purchase a marketing simulation that cost $50,” marketing senior Eden Hansing said. “We got about halfway through the simulation when students started complaining that the simulation did not work and our teams weren’t coordinated anymore.”
Hansing’s professor attempted to fix the simulation by emailing the company, but the problem remains unfixed. Hansing’s professor did not respond to requests for comment before the publication of this column.
Hansing feels as though she and her classmates have not gotten anything out of the program, yet they had to pay a relatively high price out of their pockets.
If a professor is requiring their students to spend a significant amount of money for an assignment that counts for a large portion of their grade, they should at least be sure that the external resource is working properly.
Even better, professors should not force students to pay for external services at all.
“Everything that we learn should be paid for through tuition, and we should not be expected to pay for something that’s mandatory for the class,” Hansing said. “You’re paying to learn from the professor, which is paid for by tuition, not by all these costly access codes and programs.”
If professors continue to utilize external learning resources that require students to pay out of pocket, then professors should make purchasing those external resources optional. However, they should make sure that students who cannot purchase these external resources have as many opportunities to succeed in the class as their peers who can afford third-party materials.
Moving forward, professors should research free materials like simulators and interactive modules they can utilize in their classes. Additionally, they can rely on services like Canvas and Piazza that students can already access for free to house all of the mandatory assignments for the semester. This not only cuts down on students’ expenses, it also keeps everything in one place, which would be especially helpful in keeping courses organized as online classes continue.
At the end of the day, there is no way for a professor to fully understand all of their students’ financial circumstances, and they should consider this before requiring students to purchase sources, simulations, access codes or apps for class. Students pay a substantial amount of money in tuition and that should be enough to cover all necessary requirements for their courses.
York is a rhetoric and writing junior from Laredo, TX.