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Go local for the full college experience

Area’s four schools present a spectrum of opportunities

Many movements inspire Fort Wayne residents to give back to their community by supporting local businesses, farmer’s markets and infrastructure. Why not make a movement to support local education as well? Although many may not realize it, Fort Wayne students have a lot to gain by “going local” for their higher education, and the city has a lot to gain by keeping its students close to home.

When thinking about the cost of college, many families fail to consider the cost of room and board. This can hinder some students’ ability to go away for college. “Going local” alleviates those costs and prevents students from taking on debt they do not want. Of course, saving money is only one of the many benefits of staying close to home.

When offered the option of staying local, students often object because they want the “college experience.” However, if given the chance, Fort Wayne can still provide a unique and rewarding experience. With Indiana Tech, Saint Francis, IPFW and Ivy Tech, our city offers a variety of schools: large, small, public, private, faith-based and career-oriented. Each one has the potential to be the perfect fit for any Fort Wayne student and offers a variety of activities. Furthermore, each supports nationally recognized sports teams, hosts nationally known speakers and accommodates students from around the world.

Additionally, active and diverse student organizations provide opportunities for students to develop skills, prepare for careers, learn lessons outside of the classroom and meet friends who will last a lifetime. These are the moments that make the college experience what it is. Yet in the midst of the college experience, it cannot be forgotten that the true purpose of higher education is academic preparation.

Fort Wayne offers a variety of academic opportunities that prepare students for a multitude of careers and endeavors. When a student explores all of the local colleges and universities they can find almost any major.

Indiana Tech alone offers more than 50 majors in high-demand fields such as biomedical engineering, criminal justice, recreation therapy, education and software engineering

This leads to another major advantage of staying local: It allows students to maintain close connections with their support network while adjusting to the university life and focusing on academics. The ability to stay connected to family and friends through this substantial life change benefits many new college students.

As a commuter student myself who graduated from one local university and now works for another, I can testify to all of the above. I was able to save money, participate in organizations, make lifelong friends and get an outstanding education that prepared me for my entry into the professional workforce.

I did not recognize these benefits when I made my decision to “go local,” but I hope that today’s students can learn from my experience and make the choice that fits them best.

Monica Chamberlain is associate vice president of enrollment management at Indiana Tech. She is a graduate of IPFW and grew up in northeast Indiana. She wrote this for The Journal Gazette.