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As Long as We Remember...

May 15, 2014

Graduating With Concerns

Blaine R. Young

Spring seems to have finally sprung, and as usual the month of May brings not only flowers and blossoming trees. There is also a proliferation of caps and gowns, as graduation season is in full swing.


I have always loved the month of May, and the heartwarming stories of high school and college graduates accomplishing their goals and receiving their diplomas, great evidence of achievements, not only of the graduates themselves, but also of a society that still values the completion of an academic objective. I hope that always continues to be the case in this country, but I do have concerns.


I’ve been thinking more and more about this as I work my way through my MBA program at Mount St. Mary’s. It has been a tough grind, but one to which I am fully committed, and I will be very proud of the degree I finally receive at the end of the program.


By the same token, all of our high school and college graduates should be equally proud. Although a degree does not provide the instant path to a job, career and future that it may have in the past, it is still an important component of both job and life training for our young people. I applaud everyone who puts their nose to the grindstone and does whatever it was that was necessary to earn the diploma.


However, I am very concerned about the future for our college graduates. So many of them are leaving the academic world saddled by student loan debt, often in excess of six figures. With starting salaries in most industries fairly flat these days, I fear that these student loans will amount to a ball-n-chain that our newest college graduates will have to drag along behind them for many years.


It has always troubled me that the cost of a college education has increased well beyond the rate of inflation for most everything else in the United States. Why does a typical college or university cost upwards of $50,000 a year for tuition, room, board, books, etc. In the 20 short years since I graduated college, that is an increase of approximately 500%. All of this at a time when our inflation rate has generally been rather low. Where has all this money gone?


I am not one of these people who say a college education is not worth the time, effort or money. It is clearly worth whatever the cost. I certainly hope this continues to be the case, because so many of our young people are being saddled with debt in order to achieve it.


I have two boys who will be entering their college years in the next 5-8 years. I will do everything in my power to see to it that they are able to attend the college of their choice, and I will assist them all I can in obtaining their degree. I only hope it will be worth it.


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