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A ticket to the future

April 25, 1997

Tuition hikes for college students are about as welcome as tax hikes, which is to say, not welcome at all. But the new technology fee being imposed on Hagerstown Junior College students beginning in September will more than repay those who have to shell it out now.

Last Tuesday, the HJC board voted to impose the $2-per-credit-hour fee on all credit students beginning in the fall semester. With 1,000 full-time and 2,000 part-time students enrolled in credit programs, and non-credit students contributing through lab fees, college officials estimated they could accumulate $100,000 in 12 months' time.

That money would be dedicated to the school's 12 student computer labs - which have a total of about 300 computers in them - to replace equipment, do maintenance and update software.

The fee is not burdensome, but some students interviewed by The Herald-Mail complained about it, in part because they're already looking at a $3-per-credit-hour tuition increase under consideration by the HJC board. For a full-time student carrying the minimum 12-hour course load, the combined increases would add $60 a semester to a student's tuition bill.

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That's not a great deal of money, considering what it will buy. Students will get state-of-the-art computers that are well-maintained, and which will run the latest software. Entering the working world will be easier if students can tell a prospective employer that their computer skills are up-to-date.

And make no mistake about it - everyone in the working world will use computers in the near future, if they don't do so already. Recently a local employment expert told The Herald-Mail that even warehouse jobs, which used to involved mostly muscle, have been computerized. Using a hand-held bar code scanner, today's warehouse workers scan in parcels as they're unloaded, then download the inventory into a larger computer.

As we said at the beginning, no fee increase is welcome, but this one may be tolerable if students don't think of it as a fee, but as the price of admission to the future.

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