Slow economy keeps some students in collegeWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Many college graduates are opting to continue their education because of the economy.
“We find a lot of students graduating with an associate degree continue their education at colleges and universities,” said Gentry Dixon, coordinator of Student and Alumni Placement at Owens Community College.
Dixon said job opportunities are limited and employers are looking for the best qualified candidates in today’s economy. Many employers are expecting or requiring advanced degrees, so graduates are continuing their education, she said.
“We have talked to several students who are continuing with their next degree immediately,” said Janet Dickson, director of Career Services at Lourdes College. “Competition for jobs is so strong for graduates at this time.”
However, applying for graduate school can be a long, time-consuming process that is usually begun during the summer before a student’s senior year, Dickson said. Application deadlines for different graduate programs vary depending on the institution.
Dixon and Dickson attended a seminar June 3 about how to prepare graduates for the lengthy selection process required for federal employment. It was conducted by the Collegiate Employment Consortium.
“We share similar issues and problems so we use one another as sources to help us improve how we serve students at smaller institutions,” Dickson said.
The consortium is seeing more job opportunities in fields like accounting, business, education, engineering, health care and information technology. With all the “green” business coming into the area, it’s creating more opportunities in engineering and technical fields, according to Dickson.
Both Owens and Lourdes are seeing more non-traditional students, who already have degrees and jobs, but are going back to school to change careers. About 50 percent of the students at both colleges are non-traditional.
“Non-traditional students are facing more challenges and complicated issues, while trying to improve their situation by getting degrees in other fields,” Dickson said, citing financial problems as the most common.
“We get them from all avenues and angles,” Dixon said about non-traditional students.
Some workers who have taken buyouts or early retirement come back to learn a new field in business, engineering or health care where there are more job opportunities, according to Dixon.
Laura Drouard of Rossford is one example of a non-traditional student. She returned to college to pursue a nursing education at Owens in 2006 after working as a flight attendant for many years.
Due to her demanding work schedule, Drouard took many classes online and even studied during breaks at work on flights. She credits the flexibility at Owens for being able to finish her degree in the registered nursing program.
Drouard was selected as the class representative to speak to the Owens graduating class May 8. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in nursing at Lourdes College.
“We have a lot of students from Owens who come to Lourdes to continue their education,” Dickson said.
Health care employers now require a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing for many jobs in that field, especially for management positions, Dixon said. Many of the nursing graduates from Owens pursue bachelor degrees at BGSU, UT Medical School or Lourdes.
More than 120 students graduated from the registered nursing program at Owens this year and are eligible to take the RN licensure examination. More than 4,200 nurses have graduated from the program since it was established at Owens in 1969.