Alum Jen James speaks out about Corbett budget

Jen James graduated from WCU in 2011. Here are her thoughts on
the recent budget proposals:

When I was a senior in high school, I had a difficult time deciding where I wanted to go to college. I was accepted and wait-listed at several larger, private colleges, but I was also accepted at West Chester University. My older siblings had both attended private colleges and fared well in the large-scale campus environment. However, I was immediately drawn to WCU because of its smaller size. I knew that I wanted to go to a college that valued student interaction with professors through smaller class sizes.

Although finding opportunities for individualized classroom experience was my priority in selecting a college, cost of attendance was also a major factor. I came from a single-parent home; I knew that I would need additional funding just to be able to attend college. After I was accepted at West Chester, I was also offered a full-tuition Board of Governor’s Scholarship based on my high school GPA and extracurricular leadership roles. My older sister encouraged me to take advantage of the school’s in-state tuition and my scholarship opportunity. She advised me to think about these factors based on her own experience with paying off student loan debt for both private college and medical school. Based on my sister’s insight and my primary goal of having an individualized learning experience, I chose to attend West Chester University.

Now that I’ve completed my education at WCU, I’m glad that I took the time to include factors such as class size and cost.  As an English major, I had the opportunity to get individual feedback on my work from my professors and classmates in small lecture classes and workshops. My writing improved significantly through this learning environment, and I now have skills that are immediately transferrable to the real world. Additionally, thanks to the Board of Governor’s Scholarship and my reduced tuition as an in-state student, my student loan debt is significantly lower than it would’ve been in other circumstances. I now have a better handle on my finances in terms of repaying my student loans while working than most recent college graduates thanks to West Chester University.

When I heard about Governor Corbett’s state budget cuts that would reduce funding to PASSHE colleges, I immediately thought of how that would affect students like me who relied on scholarships and affordable tuition just to be able to attend college. I also became concerned that current and future students at PASSHE schools like West Chester wouldn’t have the same advantages of a smaller classroom environment that I had. I took action in writing to my PA State Representative about my concerns over the education budget cuts, but I have yet to hear back from them. I will continue to take action and stay informed on the budget process, not just for my own benefit, but for the benefit of current and future PASSHE students who may not have the same advantages of a state college education that I had.

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