In the current economy, the outlook can seem pretty bleak for those just starting down the path towards a college degree. Declining private loan availability, tighter credit requirements, soaring tuition rates, less money being saved for college, and cuts in higher ed funding make going to college tougher now than it's been in the past. Students leaving school also face a tougher hiring situation and steep student loan debt. And those trying to remain in academia permanently face hiring freezes and fewer available tenure-track positions.
This is the situation in most of the country, but a few states rich in oil and natural gas are now experiencing a different reality. Texas, Wyoming, Alaska, and North Dakota, among other mineral-rich states, are updating, expanding, and generally improving their education systems in the wake of budget surpluses. This means hiring more faculty, building better facilities, adding degree programs, and possibly even halting the steady advance of tuition increases. North Dakota is even considering providing its students with more grant and scholarship opportunities. Texas universities, in particular, are upping their recruitment of high-quality faculty according to an article appearing today in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
So, if you're still wide open about where you'd like to attend college and you don't mind extreme heat, extreme cold, or a fair amount of isolation, maybe you want to direct your college search towards a state with a booming economy. Attending college in Alaska or North Dakota is certainly an unusual move, but if you're paying less for tuition and gaining access to rapidly expanding university resources and job opportunities, it could pay off in the end.
Looking for other unconventional educational opportunities in the recession? You could also move to Detroit and win a newly-established Kid Rock Scholarship to attend Wayne State University. Of course, there's always the option of spending more time on your financial aid and scholarship search so you can more easily afford a wider range of schools. But where's the adventure in that?
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