Letter to the Class of 2019

Dear St. Mary's Class of 2019,

As May 1 approaches, many are facing some difficult decisions about college choice. As
someone who spent a career on the college side of the college selection process, let me offer some helpful tips from the trenches:

First, if you really need more time, ask for it. In my time as Dean of Admission at
Catholic University we always had a number of students ask about an extension. If you need time to travel; visit a specific professor, or finalize your financial aid award, don't be afraid to ask. Most schools will give you up to a week extension. Not every school, but some will.

Second, don't fear student loans. Many of the stories about student loan indebtedness focus on the outrageous abuses of the student loan program. Seven million undergraduate students now rely on federal loans to enroll in college, so you are not alone.

Nearly 7 in 10 students are graduating College with $30,000 in debt on average. This may sound scary, but it is not. A college degree is still a great investment. Unemployment for college graduates is 2.1% in 2018. So, yes, obtaining a college degree is still better than the alternative. Earnings for workers who hold a bachelor's degree are far greater than for high school graduates. Those with an advanced degree also earn more, on average, than those with a bachelors.

If you invest in your education, you should see higher income over your lifetime, which should translate into greater financial security for you and your family.

Near term, however, most college graduates will be able to handle the $300 a month student loan payment. You can also apply for income-based repayment plans. Not a single borrower with federal student loans should ever have to default thanks to income-driven repayment.

Finally, but most importantly, don't be a follower. Sometimes following a boyfriend,
girlfriend, or best friend to the college of their choice may seem like a good idea at the
time. Understandable, because you already have a relationship and want to be close to them. However, this is one of the most pivotal points in your life. You need to remember to make the best decisions for yourself and, if your relationships are strong, they will outlast time and distance anyway. Take the chance to be the person you want to be as you start the next chapter of your life.

Don't rush it just because it is May 1; do not allow student loans to solely drive your decision, and sometimes choosing the road less traveled is the best choice for you.

Godspeed as you enjoy your last 30 days at St. Mary's. You carry our prayers and best wishes as you move on from Lynn.

The Class of 2019 is something special, we will miss you! 


Dr. John F. Dolan
Head of School