Measuring Cedarville's ROI (Return on Investment)
April 27, 2016
As high school seniors and their parents sit down to finalize a college decision before the May 1 deadline, one topic is nearly always part of the discussion: cost.
While many universities — including Cedarville — are taking intentional steps to make a college education more affordable, parents are increasingly looking at job placement rates in order to weigh an institution’s benefits against its costs in an effort to decide whether or not a considerable investment is worthwhile.
Cedarville's placement rates continue to be impressive. In a six-month post-graduation final destination survey, 97.2% of Cedarville's class of 2015 reported being employed or in graduate school during that time period. That's well above the national averages reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which has reported an average of 88% over the last five years.
But don't just take our word for it. Read the Q-and-A below, published in a recent issue of Cedarville Magazine, and see what parents are saying about their children's experience at Cedarville.
Cedarville Magazine spoke with Greg and Kay Watson (West Liberty, Ohio); Tom and Becky Ruhlman (Shoreline, Washington); and Phil and Sue Treide (Uxbridge, Massachusetts) to find out what draws parents and students to Cedarville, what kind of return on investment (ROI) they’re seeking, how students are prepared for success both spiritually and professionally, and why a Cedarville education is worth every penny.
As parents, and especially Christian parents, what hopes did you have for your kids as far as college was concerned?
Kay Watson (KW) – In addition to great academics and professors who care about them and who are involved in making sure they succeed academically, we really wanted Caroline ’18 and Josiah ’18 to come here and make lifelong friends and to have close, deep “iron sharpens iron” friendships that would encourage them in their walk with the Lord.
Tom Ruhlman (TR) – Our first hope was that they’d immediately find good friends in the residence halls, and they all immediately did! We also wanted them to be heavily involved in a local church right from the start, and they were all able to do that as well, serving on worship teams, working in the nursery, serving with the youth group — you name it.
Sue Treide (ST) – We hoped he would mature in all areas of life —academically and spiritually. We wanted him to learn how to adapt to his circumstances, live with other people, and essentially grow up. The friends who first introduced us to Cedarville told us they’d sent their son off to the University as a boy and he had come back a man, and that’s what we wanted for Alex ’15.
What caught your attention about Cedarville as a possible school for your kids?
Greg Watson (GW) – We feel comfortable with the school trying to control costs and with our kids’ ability to be employed after they graduate. That’s what it takes for us to be comfortable with them taking on any amount of debt. Cedarville is committed to good stewardship of students’ time. If you’re going to spend four years here, are they four wasted years, or are these the four years that become foundational to the rest of your life? Many people find their spouse, their occupation, and/or their calling in these four years as a young adult, and this is the sort of environment in which we feel very comfortable having our kids.
KW – I really like the weekday chapels and quality speakers our kids get to hear. Josiah has told us that the Fall Bible Conference and Missions Conference have been life-changing for him. Something else that caught my attention is how involved the professors are and how much they care for students. They constantly offer help and prayer, and they see the big picture.
How did finances factor into your family’s college selection process?
TR – Cedarville has a great academic scholarship system, and they have a whole list of scholarships we could apply for. Our kids also relied on money they made themselves. One summer, our son Scott ’00 held eight jobs at once! His goal as a premed student was to make it through college debt-free, and he did.
Phil Treide (PT) – It definitely always plays a role. You have to look at the value proposition — what the school offers — and obviously you want to come out prepared for graduate school or prepared for direct entry into your field, and you don’t want to be loaded with debt. There’s certainly a balance that needs to be struck there, and we were impressed with Cedarville’s quality of education and the ranking of the school versus the cost of the education. Another thing we took into account was that when Alex was entering college, he wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do. He had looked at engineering as a possibility, but was increasingly interested in the medical field. Cedarville had essentially any pre-professional program he would have wanted, so the fact that kids usually change their major was not concerning, as he wouldn’t have had to switch schools if his career aspirations had changed.
Describe how you worked through the cost of a private Christian college. What financial aid avenues were available to you?
GW – The tiered merit aid system has really leveled out Cedarville’s costs in comparison to many other schools, and that has made attending a possibility and a reality.
TR – My wife is also an amazing scholarship finder. She did research online, and she found our kids thousands and thousands of dollars. She had a whole notebook full of opportunities: $500 from the Rotary Club, some from VFW, a bit from Kiwanis. There were so many opportunities! She still helps other people who say they can’t afford it. Well, we couldn’t afford it, either! You have to go find scholarships. It might be weird, like when the kids got a scholarship from the Elks Club and we’d go to the banquet and sit in the smoke-filled room, but we got the scholarship and a buffet meal.
PT – As a middle-income family, we didn’t expect to get a ton of need-based aid, so Alex worked throughout the summer to pay for all of his incidental expenses, and we had set aside money targeted specifically to pay for his education. Cedarville is not inexpensive, but the cost is well in line with the quality of education, and that quality of education did not represent any sort of compromise compared to other well-known schools on the East Coast.
Can you talk about any professional experiences your kids have had at Cedarville that specifically prepared them for their current position or professional work in general?
TR – Both Michelle ’02 and Melissa ’15 worked with various hospitals around Cedarville as a required part of their nursing degrees. While in the premed program, Scott also had to go out into medical facilities to gain experience. As an education student, Karen ’07 went out into several schools to complete her student teaching hours, which put her right on the front lines of the educational world.
PT – This past semester, Alex helped out at a local hospital, and he’ll be going on a medical missions trip over spring break to use the skills he’s learning.
Cedarville is obviously very concerned about spiritual development, but we’re also preparing students to succeed in the professional world. In what ways have you seen that preparation go from promise to reality?
GW – I work with a lot of engineers in the aerospace industry, and I run into people I know here all the time. Why? Because if you have a student who wants to go into the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] and wants to go to a Christian school, Cedarville is the first choice. You won’t find a school that reinforces Christian values quite like this one, and you won’t find a school that prepares its students quite like Cedarville does. Cedarville has a very good regional reputation, but its reputation extends beyond the Midwest. When we went out to California to visit other Christian schools with my two older kids, people would say, “Wait a minute, you’re an hour away from Cedarville? Why are you visiting a school out here? If we lived anywhere near Cedarville, we’d go there instead!”
TR – We challenged our kids to have a marketable skill, and that’s what happened. One of our kids is an orthopedic surgeon, one is a registered nurse, one has a Master of Education degree, one is an insurance broker, and one is about to graduate with a nursing degree.
PT – We’ve watched Alex develop a real professional interest — not just thinking of his work as a job, but as a career as he’s become interested in the fundamental science of what he’s doing.
How have you seen that a Cedarville education was worth the investment?
TR – People talk about the risk of investment, but to us, there was no risk. We knew that our kids were at Cedarville with good professors and good students. And to know that they were going to chapel every day —that was huge. The faith of our children was strengthened — not shaken — at Cedarville.
ST – We’ve just seen a transformation in Alex, from being a high school kid to being a very polite and understanding young man. We attribute that to Cedarville and to the Lord continually developing and molding him.
PT – When we dropped Alex off as a freshman, one of the administrators talked about how Christian schools would increasingly have to make a choice regarding what they teach and what they believe, and we’re glad that Cedarville has stayed the course.
GW – What Cedarville brings is a balance between the uniquely, distinctively Christian experience — the sense of Christian community and the ability to make lifelong friends that you can admittedly find at other Christian schools — and an emphasis on good stewardship. The emphasis is on seeing a return on investment, because it doesn’t make sense to walk out of college owing the price of a mortgage while only being able to land a $20,000 job. Cedarville has been very methodical about fostering that return, whether it’s helping find ways to graduate in three years, aggressively encouraging kids to go into internships, or matching them up with internships, and giving them the sorts of skills that will equip them to go out and not just be trained into a job, but to be ready to contribute to a job. That sort of mindset is incredibly helpful. That’s why Cedarville has such a great reputation.
P.S. If your student has been accepted to Cedarville for fall 2016, be sure to submit your $250 reservation deposit by May 1 to ensure a place in the incoming class.
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