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February 14, 2018

I devote my days to finding ways to provide the opportunity for Higher Education to students because I believe wholeheartedly – that higher education lifts up our local, state, national and global communities.  In last week’s, Something to Think About segment it was pointed out that by the year 2021 70% of careers in Kansas will require some form of higher education. The value and accessibility of higher education is a public good and should not be reserved only for the select. 

While education, technology and the world in which we live, are evolving at unbelievable rates, the founding values of higher education institutions endure. Education is something our nation has believed in - for example, the GI Bill of 1944 was established and instituted to reward veterans - based on the national belief that Higher Education is key to public growth and prosperity.

There is much conversation about Higher Education today and whether it is worth the investment by the individual or by the state. As we look closer at the return on investment of those graduating with a four-year degree, there is a significant difference over a lifetime.

I would share a few interesting highlights that are true for those graduating with a bachelor’s degree. On the individual level, those with a bachelor’s degree earn significantly more – an average of 40% more - over a lifetime, which translates to the ability of graduates to create greater opportunity for their families. Additionally, those graduating with a degree tend to have an overall healthier lifestyle.  Beyond earnings and personal benefit, these individuals also are more likely to exhibit a higher level of civic engagement. They give back to their communities providing an overall increase in the quality of life.

Education alone is a change agent. Today’s students are deciding to change their story, elevate their communities, and provide a brighter future for generations to come. We are educating this generation to be lifelong learners that will prepare them to adapt for jobs that have not yet been created, discover solutions to problems not yet identified, and develop leaders within our organizations, communities, and nation.

So the next time we hear of a budget cut aimed at higher education a high school senior wavering about their future, or someone debating about returning to school; the value of education and our future is without question worth every dollar!

Last year Emporia State University was recognized as a college of distinction for providing high impact learning experiences, has a 98% placement rate, and is ranked by US News and World Reports as having the lowest student debt of any public university in Kansas, 2nd in the Midwest and 15th in the nation. And even more impressive – while all other institutions are seeing an increase in student debt – ESU’s average student debt has actually decreased.

No matter what you may hear or read in the news- the truth is, college is a real option for any student that has the desire and determination to get a degree. There are many scholarships, programs and financial aid solutions that can make the dream of a college education a reality for anyone.

I’m Shane Shivley and that is something to think about!