High school students and their families learn about public higher ed options

Salem State

The cost of higher education was on the minds of the 300-plus high school students and their parents who attended the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Go Public event, held on Thursday, October 18 at Haverhill High School.

Brian Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a graduate of UMass Lowell, hosted the event which was designed to raise awareness of opportunities available at state college and universities. Dempsey reported that by 2018, 70 percent of all jobs in Massachusetts will require at least some college education. "When I look into the crystal ball I see that the Commonwealth is headed for trouble if we don’t get more students into college and completing college," he said.

Dempsey also addressed the issue of student debt saying “I believe our students deserve excellence in higher education at a cost that won’t leave them drowning in debt for years to come. None of you should have to choose between buying a home and paying off your student loans.”

Dempsey’s remarks were followed by a student panel featuring Yahaira Campusano of Lawrence, UMass Lowell; Brian Kibler of North Andover, Salem State University; and April Anamisis of Methuen, Northern Essex Community College. Students shared their experiences at their respective colleges and offered advice for high school students considering where to go to college.

NECC President Lane Glenn, Salem State President Patricia Maguire Meservey, Salem State student Brian Kibler, NECC student April Anamisis and Charles Desmond, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

 Each of the college presidents including Marty Meehan, UMass Lowell, Patricia Maguire Meservey, Salem State University, and Lane Glenn, Northern Essex Community College had two minutes to answer the question “What surprises students when they arrive at your campus?”

Meehan emphasized UMass Lowell’s new academic buildings; Meservey shared Salem State’s faculty/student ratio and breadth of program offerings; and Glenn described a vibrant campus life at Northern Essex, featuring sports, student clubs, and performing arts opportunities .During the question and answer period, college presidents were inundated by parent questions regarding college debt, faculty to student ratios, and career placement rates.

Representing his dual roles as a member of the Haverhill School Committee and co-chair of the Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board, Joe Bevilacqua echoed the thoughts of many when he closed the program with the following remarks, “Kids today have to go to community college and beyond in order to succeed. We need to make sure college is accessible and affordable and that a college degree leads to a job.”

 After the formal program, parents and high school students were invited to attend financial aid sessions in upstairs classrooms. The standing-room only crowds spilled into the hallways.

Photo caption: Salem State President Patricia Maguire Meservey, Salem State student Brian Kibler, NECC student April Anamisis and Charles Desmond, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.

Courtesy of Northern Essex Community College's Newsroom