Editorial: A Guide to Getting Your Tuition Back
By The Gettysburgian Editorial Board
We all know Gettysburg College is expensive. We each know how much money we are putting in, but how much are we getting out? And how much more can we get out? The College tells us that the tuition is high because the Gettysburg experience is unique and valuable. Because we pay an exorbitant price for tuition, we have to make it worth its price by seeking out the opportunities that the College offers. What experiences add up to the $61,760 tuition sticker-price?
While these are all things that a tour guide may be eager to mention to prospective students, these opportunities are not widely advertised to current students. When they are advertised, it is only in forums that current students rarely pay attention to. The digest is indigestible: receiving four emails every day with a list of random events is not an effective communication strategy for most of the student body. Physical posters are ubiquitous but invisible. There are many events, resources, trips and funds that are available to students that students are missing. When these services go unused, it is a waste of the money that we are paying to go to Gettysburg.
In the wake of the pandemic, older students are navigating the campus favorites that have survived the pandemic, while younger students are discovering these options for the first time. Here is our guide on how to make the most of your tuition.
Go to office hours. No professor bribed us to write this, but it is a fantastic opportunity to have access to high-caliber academics who want to sit down and chat with you about their field and your life. Go to office hours to get extra academic support and to develop relationships with our incredible faculty. Outside of office hours, if your class has a PLA (peer learning assistant), visit them to get their insider tips from previously taking the class. The Writing Center is in both the basement of the library and the ground floor of Breidenbaugh, and you can drop by or make an appointment online for writing feedback for any class or assignment. On the first floor of the library, there is also the Research Help Desk, staffed by librarians who are eager to help you find sources, learn a variety of citation styles or get started on a research project. Additionally, there are four 24-hour academic buildings: Glatfelter, Breidenbaugh, Schmucker and the Science Center. Use them to stake out a study spot when the library is crowded or organize a study group there.
Go Do Things!
There are a surprising number of things to do on campus if you know where to look. For no extra cost, students can critique l’art en vogue in the art gallery, embark on a cosmological odyssey in the planetarium, spin into fitness classes, cheer on the Bullets at sports games and sing along to conservatory performances (disclaimer: singing along may get you removed from the premises). Academic departments frequently host impressive speakers, such as Obama aide Jon Favreau and photojournalist Eric Lee ’15. Pub Trivia is most Thursdays at The Attic, so show up for fun trivia, food, drinks and prize money (these prizes are seriously big bucks). The engageGettysburg app has a calendar with almost all of campus events, so check there for events that interest you. If you are looking to get crafty, the Innovation & Creativity Lab in West Building is open to all students 24/7, and has a laser printer, hand tools, sewing machines, drones and many other materials.
Travel & Learn
Expand your horizon beyond South Central Pennsylvania, and do so on the College’s dime. By studying abroad through the Center for Global Education, you can spend a semester traveling in a country of your choice for the same cost as attending Gettysburg, with all scholarships traveling with you and credits transferring back when you return. Many Eisenhower Institute programs travel within the United States, and in the past, some have traveled internationally to France, the United Kingdom, Israel and Palestine (though international travel has been limited in the past few years). These programs are no extra cost to students and allow students to connect with the greater political world. The Center for Public Service organizes Immersion Trips that teach students how different organizations and people collaborate to create change. While there are additional costs associated with Immersion Trips, there are also scholarships available for students who need them. In the past, some clubs, such as Model United Nations, have organized overnight trips, both domestically and abroad, using school funding, and the Ski Club organizes weekly trips to Liberty Mountain, the local ski area. The world is your oyster, Gettysburg, if only you take advantage of the many opportunities at your fingertips.
Gettysburg College students live up to the cliché of always wanting food and never wanting to pay for it, with an ambitious quantity-over-quality mindset. Above all, use your meal plan effectively. If you are in a rush, don’t skip a meal; use Bullet Express to order online ahead of time and pick up. Bullet also offers reusable containers that students can take home, wash and bring back to use again. Use your Dining Dollars: If you don’t need more meals, you can buy coffee, snacks and toiletries at Commons. Kazue, next to the Majestic Theater, accepts Dining Dollars, so take your friends out to dinner. For first-year students, who have far more meal swipes than Dining Dollars, swing by Servo between classes for a cup of coffee or a muffin. Clubs and organizations frequently host events with food, so go make some new friends and have a pizza party. The beloved coffee cart is now back at the library after 10 p.m., serving up all the caffeinated necessities your heart desires. For students older than 21, there are even host provider events, so let the College buy you a drink.
Money up for Grabs
Gettysburg College allocates money to students in a variety of ways. The purpose of Student Senate is to fund clubs and organizations, so if your club needs money for something, go request it. Though not automatically allocated, most (reasonable) requests are at least partially funded. Or, if none of the student groups on campus pique your interest, start your own club! For internships that are unpaid or underpaid, the Center for Career Engagement offers a summer housing grant. There are also other scholarships and grants for various programs and students sometimes advertised in the student digest. Finally, you can earn some cash (and gift cards) by participating in student research, often psychology or economics experiments; though this may not be a lot of money, it is probably higher than Gettysburg’s abysmal minimum wage.
We encourage students to partake in all of these opportunities not only because they are fun perks, but also because we pay for them. Failing to participate is a waste not only of your own tuition, but everyone else’s too. While students have recently felt that the College has not lived up to the expectations it sets for us, part of the issue is that students do not know about or do not participate in opportunities available to them. Because there is no effective centralized system to learn about all campus happenings, we need to learn from each other about lesser-known and under-utilized resources. So, go learn about the sky this month. Earn $32 in an economics experiment. Buy yourself a fancy Commons coffee. Chat with your professors. Don’t be a passive participant in your college experience.
This article originally appeared on pages 18–19 of the March 31, 2022 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.