Panel At HSU: Degree vs. Debt

By Jonathan Hagstrom

Flapjack Chronicle

A student-led panel of local college administrators and experts explored the issue of higher education debt at Humboldt State University on Thursday.

Students were able to ask questions of HSU President Rollin Richmond and College of the Redwoods President Kathryn Smith, as well as experts on economics and career development.

The public forum was a chance to pose tough questions concerning subjects like the real-life value of higher education degrees, job opportunities, and the sometimes-overwhelming future of debt for graduates.

Notecards were handed out to the audience prior to the discussion, with the instructions to submit questions for the panel to discuss.

Dr. Rollin Richmond encouraged the student attendees by saying, “The most important type of investing is in yourself.”

The panel also consisted of Humboldt County Director of Economic Development Jacqueline Debets, Humboldt County Workforce Investment Board member Bryan Plumley and HSU Career Center Development Coordinator Joy Soll.

The general consensus among the panel was that University degrees are still of unsurpassed value in the job market, even though they are increasing in price. Students were encouraged to live frugally to balance student loans.

While reflecting on the event, Connor Jepson, 22, a journalism student, said he agreed with the speakers’ sentiments that a master’s degree is typically not a good investment nowadays.

“From my own experience with looking at grad schools, you’re not going to get a substantial return financially on investing in a master’s degree. It’s the Ph.D. or nothing,” said Jepson.

Many seemed to appreciate the free advice and snack bar, but students such as John Ferrara, 24, studying journalism, were skeptical about the effectiveness of such an event.

“It seems most of the students attending this are already screwed. It would make more sense to know this stuff before taking out loans,” said Ferrara.

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