GLENWOOD SPRINGS " Would you pay $12 for a gallon of milk?
Then why would you pay for the prestige of attending a college where an education costs three times the norm?
That's the gist of a new advertising campaign at Colorado Mountain College designed to position the community college system as an attractive option for local students in the economic downturn.
"People rarely purchase a college education and may not consider its cost in the context of other purchases," Doug Stewart, CMC director of marketing and communications, said in a prepared statement about the marketing campaign. "So we wanted to give families an idea of what education would cost at other schools if tuition was a basic item at the grocery store."
Dubbed "The Bread Campaign," the new promotion uses groceries to remind people that average tuitions at in-state colleges is three times the tuition at CMC. And it suggests that choosing that pricier " and presumably more prestigious " university is akin to paying $12 for a gallon of milk, $8.75 for a dozen eggs or $7.50 for a loaf of bread.
"It becomes pretty apparent quickly that spending that much money on groceries " or college tuition " is something you want to think twice about," said Stewart in a YouTube video about the campaign.
At CMC, in-district students pay $45 per credit hour for classes. By contrast, Colorado State University students pay $147 a credit hour, University of Colorado students pay $197 a credit hour, and students at private universities pay an average of $1,100 per credit hour, notes the new campaign.
The "pay a little, learn a lot" slogan began appearing in March throughout the Roaring Fork Valley " on reusable grocery bags, through online web seminars, newspaper ads, and in marketing materials sent to local high school families and school counselors.
Ironically, if the campaign works, the college could find itself scrambling to find teachers and classrooms to meet an increased student load, come fall.
But Crawford noted that the campuses are used to making last-minute adjustments " usually by switching loads around or hiring more adjunct instructors.
"As an open enrollment college, we never know how many students we'll have in a given semester," she said. "Even if we get more students, we can't anticipate ahead of time what classes they'll need."
CMC operates 11 sites in western Colorado, including ones in Aspen and Glenwood Springs. Its administrative offices are in Glenwood, as is one of its three "full-service" campuses, which provide residence halls, dining, library and complete student services.