As of the time of this writing, the average dropout rate for U.S. college freshmen is approximately 30%. Traditional four-year schools appear to be un/intentionally positioning for this to maximize value extraction from attending students.
Anecdotal observations point to freshman and sophomore classes having significantly higher student-teacher ratios than junior and senior classes, on average.
Several education spaces at the Penn State University Park campus have massive seating capacity and are often used by lower-year classes. For example, the Forum holds four 300 person capacity rooms while 100 Thomas has a seating capacity of over 700.
While this does not account for teaching assistants or other support faculty teaching the course, the physical arrangement does contribute to a sense of “mass production” in education for many students approximately a third of which will not return the following year.