By: Molly Metzger, Student Author
Since 6th grade, I knew that I wanted to go to college. But it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I set my eyes on actual colleges I could potentially go to. First it was Michigan State where I would major in music. Then Ithica caught my eye because I wanted to move east. But my senior year when it came time for final decisions, my dream of being an audio engineer was discovered, and I searched for the school with the best equipment and media program. Bowling Green, Tiffin, and Ohio University; I had narrowed my list to these three based on what I wanted and needed from a college. After visiting each one, meeting with the instructors and checking out the equipment, my final decision was actually very easy to make. Ohio University won my heart, specifically their Zanesville branch campus.
Should I stay or Should I go?
Choosing to go to a branch campus instead of main was easier on my wallet and involved less changes to get used to. I stayed at home, slept in my own bed, and enjoyed a home cooked meal every night. Thanks Mom! While saving money and staying close to home, studying at a branch campus feels like the best choice. But what about when you graduate? Is the value of your degree from a branch the same as it would be from a main? These are questions I asked myself.
In my two years at Ohio University Zanesville, I had been given the impression from other students that my education at a branch campus was somehow worth less than what students were receiving on the main campus in Athens. There is a colossal difference in tuition after all. Many seem to think that the price you pay for a college education translates to the quality of your education. So is the value of your degree from a branch the same as it would be from main?
The answer is YES!
In my case, I got more at the branch campus than I could have even hoped for from the main. In my first class as a freshman I was taught how to use an audio console and was allowed to use the studio whenever there was time. This hands on experience is not offered until your junior year on the main campus. By the end of my first semester, I had written, performed and produced my own radio show! It is common practice for branch campuses to offer hands on experience and is well worth looking into for your prospective major.
At the end of your 2, 4, 6+ years, when you are presented your hard earned diploma, it will say your college’s name without any indication that you went to school at main or on a branch campus. A degree is a degree.
*A degree is a degree!*
Will I be successful?
In my experience, the quality of my education did not suffer at a branch campus. It was just the opposite in fact.
30% of college graduates are doing so from a branch campus. Branch campuses are seen more as a place to start then students transfer to main to finish their degree. But many technical degrees can be obtained on branch campuses without ever having to study on the main campus. According to College Measures the graduates from branch campuses have as much success post-graduation as their fellow students who studied on the main campus. Sometimes they even are more successful than the students who graduate from the flagship. I recently graduated with no debt and plenty of hands on experience to begin my career.
- Students graduating from branch campuses have as much post-college success as the students who study on main campus.
What am I actually paying for?
So if the degree and education is of the same value why does it cost so much more from the main campus? How can the monetary value be so vastly different?
True, the total cost at a regional or branch is usually far less than on the main campus. This is due to several factors, general fees are higher on main campus because the college has to support a greater capacity of students, faculty and staff, buildings, and student services. You are also often required to live on campus as a freshman and have a meal plan. Commuter students will not have these expenses, unless the branch you choose offers them, and typically they are an option and not a requirement.
Only YOU know what is right for YOU.
I loved the normality that studying at a branch campus provided. I went to school 4 days a week and was able to continue working my part-time job. My social life flourished, as I had plenty of time to go out with friends both new and old! One of the best things I can say about going to a branch is that staying home kept me close to my family, friends, pets and Mom’s cooking.
The college experience will be enjoyable whichever way you decide to go. Rest assured that even though there are some major differences, one thing that is the same on all campuses is the value of your degree.