Hidden Gems of Higher Education – Pursuing Your Passions – The Balancing Act

Can I hear it for all the moms of “generation
next”, that pre-college and college generation. That includes you, that includes me, too.
Maiya is turning 16. I think for us we worry about all the important about all the important
college acceptance letters, but what about our college-aged kids? What’s their number
one concern? What’s on their minds? Well we asked them and here’s what they had to say:
Higher education does comes with a price. No matter where you go, you’re going to have
to pay a little money out of your pocket so you can study, and you can better yourself.
I’m paying for it by myself. My parents haven’t helped me one bit.
Affordability was a really big factor. I have an older brother who’s going to college at
the time, so money was a little tight. I started looking around because I didn’t
want to have so much debt when I came out of college.
Well that was really interesting hearing their concerns, and here with some excellent solutions
to these challenges is Dr. Emily Hunt from West Texas A & M University. So glad to have
you in the studio today. Thank you. I’m happy to be here.
Alright, you know, we focus a lot on online education, older students, but there really
is that traditional student demographic out there, right? And we just heard that tuition
is a big concern. Why is that? This generation of students are very aware.
They’re very aware of their financial situation. They investigate. You know, they have access
to so many resources, and so these kids know how expensive college is, and they’re starting
to think about it and plan early. And do you think colleges know this, and they’re
trying to address this and look at this issue? At West Texas A & M University, we care about
this. We know that this is a concern for our students, and we actually have one of the
lowest tuition rates in the country. Wow! Good for you.
It’s great. And something else that we’re doing to help these kids. When they enter
the University, we have a guaranteed 4-year tuition rate. So that from the time they enter,
if they graduate within four years, their tuition does not go up.
That’s really reassuring, and I’m sure that so many economically challenged students that
come to you feel great comfort in that. Absolutely. It helps them to plan, gives them
reassurance that they know the numbers – that something’s not going to change on them and
catch them off guard. So it is, it’s one of the ways that we are working to help the students,
to be student-centered. Now for those out-of-state students that are
looking. They may not physically be able to visit the campus. Can you tell me a little
bit about where your campus is and what is looks like.
West Texas A & M University is a beautiful campus. We are actually built into the Palo
Duro Canyon, which is the second largest canyon in the United States.
Wow. So we have some beautiful terrain, definitely.
Campus is an active place. It’s very student-centered. There’s a vibrant student life. We have concerts
going on on campus. We have outside events, and our tuition is so low that we actually
have several students from out-of-state that get a lower tuition coming to Texas than they
do in their very own state. Wow. You know another real concern, I know,
for students out there is “How do I land a job?” Tell me a little bit about how you guys
look into that for students, and what your success rate is.
I am an Engineering Professor, and so I can speak to the school of Engineering, Computer
Science, and Mathematics. Right now, we have a 100% job placement from our program.
Wait, what!? Yes, 100%.
That’s pretty amazing. How are you able to achieve that?
It’s not just one person doing it. It’s definitely a team effort, but at West Texas A & M University,
student success is our number one priority. So, from the very beginning when they come
into the school, we are working with career services to help match them with a job opportunity.
And, specifically, our field of Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics, those students
are sought after even starting their sophomore here. So, we work with industry partners to
establish internships and co-op opportunities, and there’s a growing energy sector in Texas.
So, they’re always looking for engineers and computer scientists.
What would you say your secret is? Our secret is that we care about these students.
They are not just enrollment numbers for us. We know them from the time they come in. We
have a small enough atmosphere, a more intimate atmosphere, where we can know them and understand
them and care about them. So, they’re end goal is that these students are placed in
jobs where they want to be. And do you think that hands-on education is
one of the most important factors? Absolutely. Again, we’re talking about “generation
next” students. Right.
So we know that the way that they learn is hands-on. It’s experiential. They have to
be doing it to learn it. So, we definitely make that a priority at West Texas A & M University,
and specifically I can speak to Engineering. We just took some students to Honduras, and
this is all part of their classwork. They had the opportunity to design systems for
clean water for a village. They developed a hydroelectric energy system and built a
school. So, these kids are getting hands-on education from the time they come in until
they graduate. So important.
Emily, thanks so much for coming by. I mean, such great information. Great to have you
on the show. We need a shout-out for your team mascot, though.
Absolutely! Go Buffs! Go Buffs! Great to have you. And if you’re
looking for quality higher education at an affordable cost, just head to wtamu.edu or
TheBalancingAct.com and don’t forget, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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