Some Butler University graduates have found success, but struggled to attain their postgraduate goals.
The 2011 postgraduate activity report said approximately 93 percent of student respondents were successfully involved in postgraduate activities within the first six months of leaving Butler.
However, true success was not immediate for most graduates.
“Before I went to Spain, I applied for 100 jobs and didn’t get any,” said Hannah Whiteman, a 2011 graduate who recently returned from a gap-year experience teaching English in Spain. “I was lucky to find a job.”
She now works as a communications specialist at the Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie, Ind.
Whiteman said Butler’s Internship and Career Services office helped put her degrees in public relations, international studies and Spanish to good use by helping her find the job at the center.
Whiteman said she misses Butler and would be back if she could be.
Chris Parker, a 2012 graduate with a degree in arts administration, still lives near campus and said he would not have acquired his job as the annual fund officer for Planned Parenthood of Indiana without Butler’s help.
“I don’t think that I would be as happy as I am now or feel as satisfied with who I am as a person and what I’ve accomplished had I not gone to Butler,” Parker said.
Parker said while the personal growth he experienced was well worth Butler’s price tag, the financial burden has been hard to deal with.
“Right now, with the salary I have, I can pay (my debt) off in 10 years, but I know I’m going to struggle for awhile,” Parker said.
Josh Slusher, a 2012 graduate with a degree in political science, said he thinks about his student debt almost every day as he works as an executive assistant at Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm, in Washington D.C.
Slusher said he thinks the education Butler provided prepared him for his current job.
“When I was 18, I was willing to take on the debt because I thought the education I’d receive at Butler was worth it,” Slusher said. “You really don’t fully grasp it (the student loan debt) until you leave Butler and the numbers become more real.”
Parker said it bothered him to watch students leave because of the realization they could not afford a Butler education when he worked in residence life at Butler.
Parker said he thinks administrators need to spot students who are struggling earlier to help them make it by.
Butler students graduate with $5,000 more in student loan debt than they did five years ago, The Collegian reported earlier this semester.
Gary Beaulieu, director of ICS, said students’ financial obligations combined with the current job market have had some impact on graduates’ decisions, but he cannot identify what that impact is.
If Butler’s tuition costs continue to rise, administrators risk fundamentally changing the fabric of the student body, Parker said.
“At the rate that it’s going, it could easily become a university that only people who are well-to-do can afford to attend,” Parker said. “It’s going to start kicking students like me out who really want, who really feel like they worked as hard as they could in the crappy school system that they came from, to achieve the right to go to a small private institution and get that nice well-rounded liberal arts education.”