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Graduation from College – A Distant Goal for Today’s Students
by Chris P. Tomaras*
The graduating class of 2015 will have more college students who should have been part of the class of 2013. How could this be, you may ask? It is because the 4-year college degree is fast becoming the 6-year college degree. According to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics for 2014, first-time, full-time undergraduates who began their college education in 2006 at a 4-year degree granting institution, 57% received their bachelor’s degree in 2012, not in 2010. Students who were enrolled in a private nonprofit college, 66%, earned their degree in six years. What does this all mean? Only approximately 40% of college students graduate in four years.
There are a myriad of reasons as to why it may take a student longer to complete his/her degree, but many reasons focus on money. Rising tuition costs, diminished scholarship opportunities and reduced amount of financial awards are just a few of them. Nearly 80% of today’s college students have some kind of part-time job to help them meet tuition, book and living expenses. Many students have worked while in college, but the increasing financial demands to pay for their education is taking a priority and lengthening the time it takes for them to obtain a degree.
Equally disconcerting is the fact that for many students, including our Greek-American undergraduates, the goal of graduating in four years is becoming more distant. For some, the goal of graduating at all may never become a reality. I can only think of the terrible brain drain that could be happening. Compared to industrialized nations, the United States’ rank has dropped to 11—in some studies to 15—regarding the number of students earning a college degree. In China, many students are on the fast track, completing their undergraduate degrees in three years. How can America remain competitive if it takes our students more time to earn a college degree?
From the employer perspective, the pool of qualified post secondary workers is shrinking. The Bureau of Labor estimates that by 2018, just three years away, 63% of all jobs will require a college education, but there will not be enough college degreed students. A GeorgetownUniversityCenter on Education and the Workforce estimates that if the current college completion rates continue, there will be 3 million less workers by 2018. The longer it takes a student to complete their degrees, the longer it takes them to begin their career. The lost earning power can be devastating.
What also can be devastating is the emotional drain some students may experience in having to extend their college education. The ability to remain focused on completing the degree requires perseverance and commitment. Some students may become discouraged, disillusioned, so much so that they make the decision to drop out of college. Many who interrupt their studies do not return to complete their degree.
That is why the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation plays such an integral role in ensuring that students complete their education in four years. Our scholarship awards program provides the financial resources deserving college students need to stay in school. It also recognizes the tremendous talent that our Greek American college students have and encourages them to stay the course and become lifelong achievers.
We are committed to making sure our students who demonstrate the drive, perseverance and outstanding academic abilities remain on track to complete their degree in four years. And we are proud to share with you that since our inception, all 324 students who have received scholarships totaling $2.3 million completed their degrees in four years. They have gone on to be successful in their chosen careers. They are contributing meaningfully to society and they are keeping their Hellenic heritage alive.
You can help us make sure that our Greek-American students continue their pathway to success. Your financial support of the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation is the key that unlocks a student’s potential. Every donation opens a door for a deserving student and with a contribution of $1,000 you can open the door for two students through our Chairman’s Challenge Matching Gift Program.
For every donation we receive of $1,000 to $10,000, I will personally match your contribution dollar for dollar. I pledge my commitment to ensuring our students have adequate resources to earn their undergraduate degree on time. I ask you to pledge your commitment and help a worthy student succeed by donating to the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation.
Join us on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at the Hilton Chicago for our Annual Awards Ceremony and Gala as we honor and recognize the accomplishments of our outstanding scholarship recipients. Show them you care and support their journey.
To make your reservation, call (312) 357-6432 or visit panhellenicscholarships.org for more information. I look forward to seeing you on June 20th.
*Chris P. Tomaras is Founder and President of the PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation.