The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 7, 2013

Mike Pound: Even some of the best and brightest need help paying for college

It was the sort of gathering that is happening this spring in thousands of high school gyms and auditoriums across the country.

School officials, parents, relatives and friends come together to pay tribute to students who have managed to ace their high school academic careers.

I’m not talking about the sort of high school student that I was. I’m talking about the best of the best. I’m talking about the students with the 3.5 or better grade-point averages. I’m talking about the kids who make up the top 5 percent of their classes. I’m talking about the valedictorians and the salutatorians, the kids with the high test scores, and the kids who have attracted the attention of colleges and universities across the land.

The event I attended Monday night was at Carthage High School. Being recognized were members of the Carthage High School class of 2013 who distinguished themselves in the classroom, on the athletic field and through volunteer work in their community. Also being recognized were top students from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes.

There also were 20 or 30 members of the Carthage area community at the gathering, some representing local businesses, some representing civic groups and some representing those who are no longer with us.

Those people were at the high school to show their faith in the students and to award scholarships that will hopefully allow them to realize their dreams.

It was neat to see how many people and how many different businesses and organizations see the value of investing in the future. It was neat to see how those people thought it was worth their time and effort to give a little something back. Many of the people who were handing out scholarships Monday night were successful businessmen and women who benefited not only from a good college education but also from good elementary and high school educations.

I’m just guessing here, but I suspect that many of those people who were handing out scholarships were on the receiving end of scholarships themselves.

I’m guessing that many of those people who were handing out scholarships know that they didn’t get where they are today on their own. I’m guessing that many of those people who were handing out scholarships know that it took a lot of help from a lot of people for them to succeed. I’m guessing that’s why many of those people were handing out scholarships Monday night.

A number of students also received scholarships from various colleges and universities. Some of those scholarships were small, the type that might pay for a semester’s worth of books or tuition. Other scholarships were large, with several topping out at $80,000.

Carthage High School Principal Kandy Frazier said scholarships with a total value of more than $870,000 were awarded Monday night.

I think that’s something.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite enough.

What happened Monday night was great, but it doesn’t change the fact that in the richest country in the world, thousands of high school seniors will either find themselves or their families taking on massive debt in order to go to college, or they will be forced to put off going altogether.

You can argue until the cows come home over whose fault that is, but that won’t change the fact that what should be a given — a college education for those who want it — might be an impossible dream.

And the problem is not just funding college educations. States across the country are struggling to figure out how to fund their elementary and high schools. In Missouri, for example, one proposed solution — if you believe what you see on TV — is for people to spend more money on the lottery.

The logic being (I guess) that since a portion of the proceeds from the lottery goes to education, having folks gamble away their money is the best way to educate kids.

That doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. I think we can do better.

Or we can just wait until the class of 2013 is old enough to take over.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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