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Despite economy, college still a good investment

College payoff
Ashley Kovarik talks to financial aid about graduating in three years to save money on tuition expenses. — Emily Novotny/TRUMPET

College is worth more than the diploma, recent alumna Sarah Van said.

“I would never trade who I am now for who I was in high school,” Van said.

Despite the economic downturn that has affected most of the country, college continues to be a good investment, especially for those who receive financial aid, an article from the Huffington Post said.

The article did not cover the personal growth that occurs throughout a college career, but Van said that was as invaluable as the monetary investment.

However, the true value of college, Van said, largely depends on the student and the choices they make throughout their time on campus.

“If you’re skipping classes or flunking out, then you’re wasting money no matter how much tuition costs,” Van said.

A 2011 graduate, Nicole Oberhoffer, said the choice to go to college has already seen dividends in her post-college life.

“Without the degree that I earned I would not have received the two job offers I got right out of school and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to apply for the position I have now which is a wonderful career path. I needed a degree for these positions to even apply,” Oberhoffer said.

Derek Solheim, Director of Pathways, said that a big part of making college, and especially private colleges like Wartburg worth your up-front dollar investment is getting involved and creating a foundation for your resume from the time you set foot on campus to your commencement day.

“Wartburg has so many great opportunities, and it’s a matter of getting involved and keeping your resume in mind from first year on. It’s never too early to start building that and it’s an essential tool for students,” Solheim said.

The difference, Solheim said, is in how students prepare themselves for life after college while in college.

“There are so many resources available to students to help them prepare for the working world, and it’s in taking advantage of those resources that students really can make the most out of their college investment – beyond even what their sticker price is,” Solheim said.

Oberhoffer said having a college degree, even in the current economy, gives graduates a leg up in the working world.

“Without it the economy would probably end up hitting you even harder. Having a minimum wage job while prices keep rising is worse off than having some debt but being able to obtain a position where you can make better salary, have better job security, and therefore manage that debt,” Oberhoffer said.

Overall, Solheim said, the level of return on investment that any given student will see is largely dependent on the individual.

“It’s my experience that the more you invest in yourself and become engaged in this place, the more doors that tend to be opened when you’re beginning to write the next chapter of your life,” Solheim said,  “And then also know that you’re really just starting to write that next chapter.”

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