The Current State of a College Education

(A recent interview with Rose Neilsen, the wife of Kenneth Neilsen, President of Woodbury University in California)

PB: Webster defines “education” as the process of education, teaching, or training; the learning or development that results from this process or training.

I wanted to discuss the current state of obtaining a college degree education in the current climate. I know that you are very knowledgeable about this and that’s why I asked for this interview.

I’ve been thinking lately how very important an education is. Giving someone the gift of an education through a scholarship would be a perfect gift.

RN: I think you’re perfectly right, Patte. Through education, these students are later able to get better jobs: 50% more with a college education than someone without a college degree. If you figure that out in the long term of someone’s life, it means a lot of money; and it makes a big difference in that they can then send their children to college.

PB: Well, what would be an accurate comparison, from this 2011 to 2010? When did the heart break and the head break start with this economy? Was it last year, or two years ago?

RN: I think the change actually started four years ago, when we had students that had parents who were actually losing their jobs. The students were already enrolled in the school and then their parents lost their jobs. I personally think that right now we’re not seeing as many parents lose their jobs, because the students whose parents already lost their jobs are simply not in college, because they can’t afford it. We had students who had to drop out because their parents lost their jobs.

It doesn’t seem that we have as many students drop out of school now because when they enter school, their parents have jobs and I don’t think there have been as many layoffs. These students are supported by their parents. 72% of our students are the first generation in their family to go to college, and most of the parents want to give their children what they never had and this makes a difference. They saved what they could for college, but then when they lost their jobs, they had to use the money they saved for college to support their families.

I think that right now we have a number of students who are not in school because they cannot be there due to lack of money.

Right now we have 91% of our students on scholarships; so we have more students who are saying that, if they can get scholarships, they can attend college.

PB: How do they qualify for a scholarship?

RN: In order to get a Cal Grant from the state, you have to have a l0.0 average and your parents have an income of less than $50,000 combined.

But to qualify for a Woodbury scholarship, you need to have a lot of potential and good grades (a minimum of a B average). Also, your parents have to file reports on all their income tax, so we only give money to students who truly need help. That is determined by the parents’ income, which is the determining factor.

PB: How does that prevent the parents from lying?

RN: Well, they can’t really lie, because the Federal tax returns and all that have to be given to the university. We need to see, in black and white, that the parents only make so much money and we need to have some documentation to prove that.

Part II to follow….

If you care to comment about this column, please email me at pattebarham@hotmail.com.

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