The Woodward News

August 23, 2012

College degree remains an American dream

Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — By Dr. Janet Cunningham

On Monday, more than 2,000 students started the fall semester at Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s three campuses. Included in this number is a class of more than 400 first-time freshmen. We welcome them as the newest members of the Ranger family and will stand beside them as they work to reach their goal of a college degree.

Each student attending classes at Northwestern is to be congratulated for the decision to seek a college degree. Since the birth of our nation, one of the great dreams of American parents has been to provide the opportunity for their children to attend college.

A college education may not seem quite as important today in northwest Oklahoma as the latest energy boom has provided a large number of jobs and our regional economy is robust. But as we all know, these periods of economic activity are cyclical. This boom, like all others, will gradually come to an end and the jobs that remain, largely in management and administration, will go to those who have a solid educational background. Employers will be looking for those employees with the analytical, critical thinking and communication skills that come with a college degree. Today, a college education is more important than ever.

The benefits of a college education are well-documented. According to the latest data from the College Board, the median annual salary for a college graduate is $21,900 more than a person with a high school diploma. In addition, college graduates have greater job satisfaction, are more likely to engage in volunteer work and community service, and generally have healthier lifestyles and greater life expectancy.

At Northwestern, we strive to provide area residents with the opportunity to earn a college degree and gain that competitive edge. We provide accessibility with three campuses, classes during the day and evening, and online options such as our new online degree programs in business administration, accounting and technical management.

Northwestern continues to remain a great college value with some of the lowest tuition and fee rates in the region, and a scholarship and financial aid program that is second to none. U.S. News and World Report cited Northwestern for having the most affordable campus housing in America, and we continue to address textbook costs through our Rent-A-Text program.

The jobs of the future will require highly-educated employees that can compete in a true global economy. A college degree remains the gold-standard by which our workforce is judged. At Northwestern, we stand ready to serve students and their families in their quest for the American dream of a college education.

Janet Cunningham, Ed.D.