Three graduation ceremonies in 48 hours! SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury Branch Campus students graduated with SUNY Adirondack students on Thursday evening in the Glens Falls Civic Center, and on Saturday, SUNY Plattsburgh Main Campus students graduated in either a morning or afternoon ceremony. This was one of the last “firsts” for me as I close in on beginning my second year as Branch Campus Dean, and I must say it was one of the most satisfying and celebratory two days I’ve ever had in my professional career. The energy and excitement within the graduation chambers were palpable. Students were beaming, families and friends were hooting and hollering, professors were decked out in robes and medallion, and through it all, our next generation of college graduates walked across the stage, diploma in hand, to officially conclude a major milestone in their lives. What a wonderful thing for them and for us. In fact, we all should be celebrating their success!
Saturday’s eloquent student speaker, a young woman from Port Washington, Long Island spoke about both the extrinsic and intrinsic values of a college education to her classmates. Being a business major, she included in her talk the ROI, or Return on Investment, for dollars spent earning a Bachelor’s Degree. She shared that 30.98 is the ROI one can expect from one’s invested dollars. In other words, for each dollar you spend on your college degree, you will receive 30.98 dollars in return. As an example, if I invested $50,000 to earn my degree, I can expect $1,549,000 as a return on my investment (You won’t get that kind of return in your IRA account). That sounds like a real good investment. I didn’t check the math, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides all the data demonstrating how valuable education is to one’s employment and earnings (See The Costs of Education Versus Ignorance). In any case, a college education pays off handsomely.
On my drive home from Plattsburgh following the afternoon ceremony, I reflected on the scope of change the graduates had experienced in such a short period of time. From their very first day at college, they had to orient themselves to new surroundings, expectations, rules, and protocols while learning course content and skills that stretched them beyond their comfort zones. The stakes were high. Thousands of dollars and hours were being invested on a hope and a dream, and in the end, their success hinged largely on their individual efforts and the collective support they received from SUNY Plattsburgh college professors, support staff, administrators, and classmates. I felt a sense of pride for being a small part of such a critical milestone in our students’ lives, and I know I return to my Branch Campus office on Monday with a keen sense of appreciation for the services and supports we offer students in the field of education.