Getting a college degree is worthwhile according to Robert Nystuen, president at Glacier Bank, and a member of the Montana University System Board of Regents.
“I believe it is worth every dollar and every hour invested,” said Nystuen, in addressing attendees of the Montana Economic Outlook Seminar. In evaluating the benefits of a higher education, Nystuen pondered concerns of that the Montana University System has seen little growth since 2008, a trend that is expected to continue through 2022.
People with more education do better, earning more than one million dollars it’s no more over their careers.
People with more education are less likely to be unemployed.
People with more education also tend to have healthier and more educated children.
Nystuen concedes that it is expensive to go to college. Tuition, room and books and board can cost up to $20,000 a year ago to attend the University of Montana or Montana State University. Even at that, the cost of attending a Montana College tends to be low relative to other states.
Higher education also benefits and the area’s economy. More college-educated workers means a state or community is more competitive, more productive and grows faster.
Montana’s colleges and universities award over 9000 degrees and certificates annually, 80 percent of which find jobs in Montana. According to Nystuen, nearly $2 billion of after-tax income received by Montanans can be traced a higher education institutions.
The percentage of high school graduates should be higher than it is, said Nystuen. Approximately 62% of high school seniors choose to attend college immediately following graduation, with 49% attending in- state schools.
A number of barriers prevent students from pursuing higher education. Some overestimate the cost or are unaware of possible financial aid. Some students are reluctant to incur debt. Some lack the resources ago or the self-confidence to believe they can succeed.
The difficulty of college math and English are also barriers that pose challenges for success in college. College math is one of the highest impediments to students enrolling in persisting through to college graduation, especially in a non-STEM programs period, said Nystuen. Only one in ten students, who must enroll in college remedial algebra, go on to earn a postsecondary degree.
Nystuen recommended more cooperation between K – 12 schools, all the Office of Public Instruction, the Office of Commissioner of Higher Education and the Montana Board of Regents, to improve math skills before college. Also, he advised, to recognize that not all students require a higher level of knowledge if they are enrolled in the humanities, some healthcare fields, or technical programs.
The problem is being addressed through a program called Montana Math Pathways + Math Corequisite Model, which helps students complete gateway courses. Montana State University – Billings has seen great success with this program in higher student test scores, higher completion rates and reduced attrition.