Students remain dubious as NAU risks image change
At some point while laying down in your dorm watching TV, you may have seen a commercial advertising NAU’s extended campuses: “Statewide. Online. Flagstaff.” After some of us saw this commercial, we were stunned. We couldn’t believe it. We felt cheated and enraged, like our school had sunk far below its level and sold out to the media.
The commercial is reminiscent of those advertising online and community colleges that coined phrases like “go to school in your pajamas” and “get a degree without ever leaving your house,” conveying to the viewer how easy it is to get a college degree.
While these schools are by far subpar to NAU, the commercials our school has produced make it out to be nothing more than a glorified community college.
Like many other students at NAU, for us, making the decision to come here rather than ASU ultimately came down to the size of the classes. We wanted smaller class sizes so we could get the one-on-one attention we couldn’t get at the second largest university in the country — or many of the other larger state schools across the country.
After touring NAU, we not only fell in love with the campus, but we were excited about the 17-1 teacher-to-student ratio advertised in each presentation. This ratio meant we would have smaller class sizes than the ones offered at many of our high schools, which pleased both us and our parents (whom we had to convince to let us attend NAU).
Unfortunately, now it seems the hidden gem NAU once was has turned into a place that is rapidly expanding, leaving behind the small university and small-town image.
NAU has vast plans for expansion in its “20-year plan,” outlining a university that allows for tremendous growth in the student population. The plan intends to build more on-campus housing further south as well as another Applied Research and Development building and a seemingly fantastical “skyway” extending from south campus to central campus.
These ideas are not only somewhat impractical — they ultimately take away from the small school values of an intimate feel that our university has tried to preserve.
With these commercials being broadcast across the state and NAU implementing plans to expand, it seems the university has come to an identity crisis: small, personal college or large, publicized university? Alumni remember the school to be a small treasure among the bigger Arizona universities; current students know it to be a lesser recognized state school but great nonetheless.
So the question remains: What does the future hold for NAU?
Some say we are destined to become a school quite similar to the University of Phoenix, where getting a degree is as easy as 1, 2, 3. In fact, while conversing with faculty about the topic of this article, we were informed students can attend a community college for three years, go to NAU online for a year after, and graduate with the same degree as a student who put in the full four years. Where is the prestige in that?
Others worry NAU is becoming too big for its britches by allowing so many students to enroll, making classes harder to get into and larger than ever before. We are not alone in noticing our newsfeeds on Facebook were flooded with angry status updates about people not being able to enroll in their required classes.
If students are having this much trouble getting their classes this year, we hate to imagine the horror that will befall when NAU expands.
The school is having trouble claiming an identity not only in academics, but in school spirit as well. It seems the school cannot decide on two dominant colors to represent the Lumberjacks.
In most NAU flyers and pamphlets, the school colors appear to be sage and blue. However, the colors change to blue and gold at sporting events. It is clear NAU is struggling to declair any kind of image on all platforms.
While students at any school would be ignorant to say their administration is flawless, making that claim at NAU will get you laughed off campus. By producing these commercials, the NAU administration has put its students to shame, and it would be wise to hold off on any further tacky advertisements.
No matter how you spin it, NAU is changing. Only time will tell how and if it’s for the better. But from where we are standing, NAU students should start accepting the mockery of “Not A University” as a reality.