Staying safe during the pandemic has required us to temporarily change many of our routines, traditions and ways we interact with each other.
Some have been easy changes. Wearing a mask and washing our hands more frequently don’t really interfere much with our normal lives.
On the other hand, working and learning from home, staying away from friends and family, not hugging grandma, interviewing for a job through Zoom, or competing in your last high school or college game with no spectators? Now, those are big differences that can make us feel as if life is so changed we have to stop doing everything we had planned before coronavirus became a part of our lives.
As a university president, that concerns me on many levels, and here’s why.
High school students who put their lives on hold miss out on opportunities to pursue the life they want. Scholarships, financial aid, and academic support are offered at the highest levels to high school seniors. These students have to take advantage of them, though, by engaging in the college application process.
Nearly every adult learner who has come back to college after putting their plans on hold wishes they would have done so sooner. Continuing to delay going after the career you want keeps you from reaching your dreams and potentially translates to missed earnings.
A college degree provides options and opportunities. Today’s college degree provides flexibility and a path toward earning an estimated $1 million more over your career. A recent study of Shawnee State alumni demonstrates the return on their investment in education and how they are using their degrees in career fields and communities all over the state, region, nation and world.
I am an educator of more than 30 years, so of course I value education. And, of course, I want students and adult learners to come to Shawnee State. I’ve seen firsthand how our degrees have helped to change lives — and I also know the focus we place on helping students succeed.
It’s that focus that drives my message. Your success — no matter how you define it — is important to me. Whether you choose Shawnee State, or another path toward reaching your education, career and life goals, I want you to succeed.
I encourage those who may have hit the “pause button” on their lives because of the pandemic to move forward with their plans for the future, despite the challenges we’re facing at this time in our history.
If your dreams for your future career and life haven’t changed, your ability to get there doesn’t have to either. Your high school guidance counselor or college admission advisor can help you take the first steps.
We’re all in this together, and we’ll continue to move forward together.
Dr. Jeff Bauer is President of Shawnee State University and the proud parent of three SSU graduates. He joined Shawnee State as its first geology professor in 1987 and has spent his career advocating college access and affordability.