Local college grads need purpose with tassle for leg up

“This is Penn College and we’re not like any other place,” Dr. Davie Jane Gilmour, president of Pennsylvania College of Technology, told the crowd at one of the three graduation ceremonies held by the school recently.

The fact that three ceremonies were necessary says so much about the school’s growth over the past four decades.

And the fact that it is not like a lot of other colleges probably is the reason for that growth.

While the school has expanded its educational offerings drastically over time, it’s calling card always has been program offerings, both old and new, that have a definitive purpose.

Penn College’s plastics program has a practical application that has made graduates of that program elite prospects to a multitude of businesses and industries for well-paying jobs. It has numerous other technically edged programs that do the same.

The reason many colleges are struggling today is a failure to offer programming that will make entering the workforce easier for graduates. Given tuition requirements and large post-graduate loans that usually loom, young people can’t afford to take on post-high school education with anything but a practical plan.

Hannah G. Maine, a plastics and polymer engineering major who was the student speaker at the event, called it “an investment in yourself.”

That’s an apt description.

Today’s college graduates are entering the work force while the nation’s economy is thriving. The downside is unemployment at record low rates, which means competition for quality jobs is intense.

In that scenario, a college education is only as valuable as its application.

We congratulate those students from our region who picked up a college degree with purpose this spring.