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  • Writer's pictureCourt Newkirk

In Three Months, It’s Graduation Time Again

I had been researching and pondering an article about our State budget for many months and I was just about to send it to Patrick for our February article when I read Dear Abby in this morning’s (Wednesday’s) paper.

A young man was being overly pressured by his parents to get his act together on college admissions. It immediately took me back to my senior year in the spring of 1969. (yes I am that old). I wanted to either continue my education in the newly opened VoTech School in Enid, (its first year of operation). They are now all named “Technology Centers.” Or I wanted to enlist in the Air Force. My father was at that time either a Major or Lt. Col. In the Air Force Reserves, so I’m thinking this is a very viable option. Whoa, what I didn’t understand was that my continued education was “none of my business”, according to Mom.

I was going to college and there would be no further discussion. Back in 1969 in western Oklahoma, we didn’t even know that Okmulgee Tech even existed (now Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology). That would have solved two of my desires, college and a technical career.

To be quite honest, at 18 I had no business taking up a seat in college. I wasn’t prepared, and I didn’t want to go. So in my mind the two alternatives I suggested, VoTech School or the Air Force were legitimate concepts. I promised my mom I would go to college as soon as I finished up my hitch in the Air Force. Showing my complete naivety, I figured, at least my dad would be on my side. Well that didn’t happen either.

Jump forward to 2022. I bet there’s more than one family in the Okmulgee area that is struggling with this same issue. Now days the options available to graduating High School Seniors are almost endless. It also really hurts me to know that a very small number of area student’s start their post High School education thru Green Country Technology or college at OSUIT. Out of all the colleges and universities in our fine State, OSUIT is ranked the most affordable. A lot of students graduate from OSUIT with an AA, AS or BS degrees with little or NO DEBT. I have always wondered why a lot of our students don’t start working on their required general education college courses at OSUIT. We know it is cost effective, and some students who are weary of a big University setting can easily test the college experience right here in Okmulgee at a smaller school. Note I said smaller, not easier. So Okmulgee has what I consider the perfect set-up. You can continue your education through Green Country and then transfer to OSUIT, or start directly at OSUIT. It’s cost effective either way.

College is not for everyone, but national research strongly suggests that any post-high school education puts a young woman or man ahead of those who just go straight into the work force. Over a lifetime of work it’s valued at several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Green Country Technology Center is also a very cost effective way to test the waters in an industry that may turn into a lifelong career, or as a stepping stone to another school of higher education, like the one right across the street from Green Country.

One more point to consider. In doing economic research on the impact of OSUIT on our local economy I calculated that putting an additional 1,000 students on the OSUIT Campus would be equivalent to having a new factory coming to town with 100 full time jobs. If you ever wondered how you can help grow the economy of the Okmulgee area? Help your student understand the advantages of getting a degree or starting their general education classes at OSUIT.

Graduation will be here before you know it and a clear path is right in front of your student.

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