The value of a college degree

By Michael Siegel, director, Columbia College-Fort Leonard Wood

Michael Siegel

At last, 15 minutes of quiet time after a busy day! The computer is on, the textbook is open, there is ice cream in the freezer, and the TV is playing softly in the next room — only two discussions, three chapters and a quiz to worry about before the day is officially done! So why am I doing this? It would be so easy to just slam the book closed, turn off the computer and sit in front of the TV eating ice cream.

But something is driving you to finish your degree. Believe me, you are not alone in wondering why you are working so hard to finish your education. If you need a single measurable reason, I would like to draw your attention to a 2014 Urban Institute article by Sandy Baum entitled “Higher Education Earnings Premium.”

“Overall, people with a college education do better in the labor market than people with no education beyond high school,” Baum says in the very first paragraph of the article. “Higher levels of education correspond, on average, to higher levels of employment and higher wage.”

The key phrase in this opening paragraph is “on average;” not everyone will earn high wages but, on average, obtaining a higher degree will help graduates reach a higher level of income, gain more personal satisfaction, find employment and advance faster.

“Skeptics of the value of a college education often argue erroneously that the payoff is declining. For those with bachelor’s degrees or higher — and particularly for those with advanced degrees — the earnings premium has increased markedly over time,” Baum says.

Finally, Baum says that while we often focus on labor market returns, not all benefits from higher education are monetary. College graduates are healthier and more engaged citizens. Earning the degree often means less family and leisure time but, remember, the statistics are on your side. So answer the discussion questions, read the chapters, take the quiz and then eat the ice cream.

And happy new year from us here at Columbia College-Fort Leonard Wood!

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Read the fine print on promotional interest rates

interest rate

The holiday season has come and gone and, more likely than not, your credit card bills have swollen with the weight of the gifts you purchased for family and friends.

Some of you may have taken credit card companies up on seasonal low interest rate offers in order to lessen the burden as well. If a company is offering to let you pay off a four-figure debt over the next year with 0 percent interest, how can there be a downside?

Sometimes companies hide them in the fine print of the agreements, according to Rachel Smith, senior advisor at Columbia College’s Student Success office.

“Many people think that they are getting a great deal with a 0 percent interest program,” Smith says. “when in reality they haven’t read the fine print and don’t realize that if you don’t pay off the loan in the specified timeframe, even by one payment, they go back and charge you interest from the date of purchase. This can be costly mistake for consumers.”

In an article called “How Credit Card Promotional Rates Work,” highlights the key tenets of these potentially useful, yet potentially damaging, deals.

Here are some things to consider with promotional rates:

  • How long do they last?: Federal law mandates at least six months, but some of the best deals can last up to a year and a half. Some credit card companies measure the rates through billing cycles rather than months, so be on the lookout for that as well. Also, be sure to make your payments on time. Some rates expire before the end of the promotional period if you’re more than 60 days late on your credit card payment.
  • Check the rate after the promotional period: Before you enter into a low interest rate agreement, find out what the post-promotional rate will be. Sometimes, an inflated rate after the promotional period makes it so that it’s not worth it to sign on for a low interest rate during the deal.
  • It’s not the same as deferred interest: Even though companies may use similar phrasing to promote low-interest rate introductory offers and deferred interest plans, they are not the same thing. With a deferred interest plan, you have to pay the full credit card balance in order to pay no interest. If you have any balance left after the promotional period, you’re on the hook for the full interest backdated to the first day the balance was added to your account.

For more tips on financial awareness, you can check out the Student Success Money Stacks page, email or call (573) 875-7860.

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Campus Quad’s Alumni Fountain celebrates Nationwide locations

Columbia College QuadColumbia College is far more than just its Day Campus. We would not be where we are today without the students and alumni from our 35 Nationwide locations, Evening Campus and the Online Education program as well.

That’s why, when it came to planning out the Quad — the new heart of our Columbia, Missouri, campus — we made sure that our national footprint played a prominent part.

To honor our more than 83,000 alumni living worldwide as well as all the locations that make up the whole of Columbia College, we positioned Alumni Fountain as the centerpiece of the Quad. The fountain has one center jet of water, representing main campus, with eight smaller jets arranged around it to represent the Nationwide locations’ contribution to Columbia College.

Not only that, but the fountain also serves as a sort of compass, with bricks bearing the name of each Nationwide location and arranged geographically around the center of the fountain in the direction they are from the main campus.

Alumni Fountain turned on for the first time August 29, the first day of classes, and it took students less than a minute to make a sprint through the jets! On October 7, President Scott Dalrymple officially dedicated the rest of the Quad at a ceremony in which more than 100 members from the community showed up to help celebrate.

We hope that those of you who have had the opportunity to visit our beautiful campus will make a return trip at some point to check out the Quad. And, if you’ve never made it to Columbia, we hope you’ll stop by and check out all we have to offer.

Be sure to visit for more information.

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Social networking can help net a job 

Businessman hand drawing a social network scheme on a whiteboardHave you ever thought about using your Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts to help further your professional life?

While their primary purpose is expanding and deepening someone’s network of personal connections, the many platforms that make up social media can also serve as invaluable resources when you’re looking to land a job or further your career. That is, if you know how to use them correctly.

A 2012 survey found that 37 percent of the more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resources professionals the site polled use social networks to vet job candidates. Of those companies, 65 percent said they did it to see if the potential candidate presents him or herself professionally.

“Social media is a primary vehicle of communication today, and because much of that communication is public, it’s no surprise some recruiters and hiring managers are tuning in,” CareerBuilder vice president of human resources Rosemary Haefner told

So how do you put your best foot forward? Forbes (“Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn in Your Job Search”) and (“45 Things Successful Job Seekers Do on Social Media”) both have helpful articles on the topic.

Here are some of their top tips:

  • Show Your Personality: Don’t start these accounts just to have them. Actually go on Facebook, Twitter, etc., read what others are posting about and develop some content of your own that shows off your individuality. Comment on others’ posts. Share articles that interest you, or that you find interesting about the field in which you work.
  • But Keep it Clean: Make sure that the face you present to the public is one that you wouldn’t mind everybody in the world seeing. That goes beyond some obvious pointers such as don’t use profanity and keep party pictures off your feeds. The Muse also suggests “removing articles that are politically divisive or could be considered offensive, posts that are super random, long rants on a certain topic and the like.”
  • Spread Your Wings: Don’t be afraid to expand your social circle beyond your immediate sphere of friends and family. Forbes suggests remaining vigilant on LinkedIn with inviting new networking contacts and old work colleagues to join your network. That not only expands your networking circle but also gives you access to more second- and third-degree connections through your new contacts.
  • Read Up on Potential Employers: Identify companies for which you ultimately might like to work and follow their social media trails. That way, you can keep up to date on any jobs that might be coming open, as well as any initiatives or milestones so you can be knowledgeable at a possible interview. You can also find who you might be working for (or with) and see their social media presence. Familiarize yourself with their passions and views and get a gauge on their personalities.
  • Promote Yourself…But Not Too Much: If you’re proud of a personal or professional achievement, don’t be afraid to flaunt it on your social media accounts. But, as the Muse points out, don’t come off as a braggart: “Nothing looks worse – or turns followers off more – than a Twitter stream just promoting your own thing.” Spread praise around to others in your social and work communities and show that you’re just as happy for the success of others as you are for yourself.

For more tips on pursuing and enhancing professional opportunities, you can visit Columbia College’s Grossnickle Career Services Center website, call (573) 875-7425 or email

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Uber drivers can get discounted tuition at Columbia College

map, car and phone, uberAre you looking for a way to pursue a quality college education while supplementing your income with a side job? Columbia College and Uber have you covered.

The two organizations have announced a unique partnership that will give thousands of Uber driver-partners around the U.S. a 15-percent discount on tuition. The discount will also be available to any current Columbia College student who signs up to drive with Uber.

“Uber has a great global brand, and we’re pleased to partner with them,” Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple said. “This initiative has the potential to change many lives.”

Tuition costs at Columbia College are less than half the national average. The Uber partnership provides an incentive for current students to realize another revenue stream, as well as an enticement for prospective students who just so happen to be Uber drivers.

“Uber is a natural fit for students looking to earn money while pursuing a degree. With no set hours or shifts, students can choose when they want to drive in a way that works around their lives and class schedule, not the other way around,” said Andy Hung, Uber Missouri general manager. “We are thrilled to team up with Columbia College to offer this program to drivers seeking an affordable way to further their education.”

To be eligible for the tuition discount, Uber driver-partners must complete at least one trip per month. For more information about how current students interested in driving with Uber and current driver-partners interested in applying to Columbia College can take advantage of this offer, visit

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