Impact of College on Cities
Recently, Dr. Darryl Holloman, the Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students, was asked to provide insight from his experience on the relationship between colleges and the cities or towns in which they are located. The interview was conducted by wallethub.com, a news outlet that covers the personal finance industry.
Q: In deciding which university to attend, how important is the surrounding city/town?
A: In making decisions regarding a university choice, I believe, it is important to consider the location of the university. Students are spending four or more formative years at a university, and the experiences of those students will be intricately tied to the areas surrounding their college. A student needs to have a great sense of who they are as an individual when making that choice. Does that student enjoy a bustling pace or does the student prefer a more tranquil surrounding? Understanding that preference helps students to determine a location that will resonate with them personally. It has been my experience that students who select colleges with an understanding of the dynamics of the city or town within which that college is located have an even more enjoyable time on their campuses. Those students tend to be less homesick and become more active participants both on and off campus.
Q: What are the benefits of living in a college city/town for non-students?
A: I believe that colleges and universities bring a sense of energy and vitality to a community, which, in turn, enhances the experiences of its residents. Colleges and universities can also provide a healthy boast to the economy of a city or town. I have worked at institutions where a fair number of the employees at that institution were members of the locale. I also believe that college students bring an economic value to communities, because they are consumers. This can be a direct benefit to non-students who may be small business owners. At the institutions where I have worked, we often created student programming and activities that interfaced with the local community - for example, holding concerts at local entertainment venues or purchasing discounted tickets for students to participate in things such as the local symphony or museum. All these things help to sustain and maintain a vibrant economic stability that benefits both students and non-students.
Q: Are college cities/towns a good option for retirees? What about families?
A: For many of the reasons mentioned above, colleges provide great opportunities for exposure to both retirees as well as families. Universities often host lecture series or educational programs that bring speakers onto campus who address contemporary social, political and cultural concerns. Serving as an employer, universities provide both retirees and families members, who may work or have worked at the local college or university, with employee benefits that are fairly competitive based on market rate values.
Q: How can parents prepare their children for managing finances in college (student loans, credit cards, etc.)?
A: I believe parents should be honest in their discussions of financial literacy with their children. Sometimes parents are not as forthright in their discussion of economic responsibility with students before they arrive to college. I do not think that parents are necessarily being negligent, but they just do not think that a discussion of finances is relevant until possibly their child finishes college and enters the workforce. Being open and earnest with a students in terms of monetary matters helps to develop individuals who are financial responsible and who leave college with more manageable debt. I can remember my own college days, having about six or seven different credit cards and graduating with high-interest debt in conjunction with my student loans. It took me a great deal of time and discipline to effectively reduce that debt once I left college. I learned a valuable lesson in terms of managing debt later, but if I had that knowledge going into college, I could have used those financial resource towards other financial obligations. I believe that parents should always be transparent in discussions about finances and debt management with their children, but I definitely believe that discussion needs to be more frank during a student’s senior year in high school. During that year, parents should have open discussions about the impact of credit cards or excessive student loans on long term financial goals. Additionally, I think that during that senior year, parents should work to set short-term financial goals for their children as well. For example, if you are going to purchase a car for your incoming freshman, have them contribute a third of the cost towards the payment. Take the risk to co-sign for a credit card while your son or daughter is in their senior year while teaching them how to manage this type of debt. Doing these things will help to demystify the credit process and help students to become more financially astute.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of going to college in state vs. out of state?
A: This is definitely a personal choice, and I believe that an individual has to make the best decision concerning the type of school they wish to attend. A student needs to understand which universities have faculty members on staff who can best prepare them for their professional choices. Making that choice may mean attending a college or university that is not close to their home. If finances are an issue, however, in-state tuition can be much more cost-effective.