Change Starts with Conversation

PPHS South Bend students and staff meet with Sec. of Commerce Bradley Chambers.

Written by Chief Strategy Officer Kim Reier

Published: August 18, 2022

Strong leadership starts with inviting constituents and stakeholders into the conversations where decisions are being made. Yesterday, Indiana's Secretary Chamber of Commerce, Bradley B. Chambers, invited students from Purdue Polytechnic High School in South Bend to have a conversation about their future plans, including what they see as the advantages and barriers to a college education.

It's no secret that college graduates earn higher wages over their lifetime than those who have not earned a college degree - and are half as likely to be unemployed. In fact, according to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), those with a bachelor's degree make $1.2 million in additional earnings over their lifetime compared to those with only a high school diploma. As Indiana's college-going rate has plummeted since the pandemic, the future of the state's economy truly depends on finding ways to improve college affordability and access to the resources that will help students get there. PPHS has been successful in sending students to college, berating the state average by double-digit percentage points. But we know we can all do better. PPHS leadership are engaged in conversations with law and policymakers at the state and local level to advocate for the sake of our students and their futures. We’re not giving up and neither should our students. 

We at PPHS understand that navigating the college application process and finding the resources needed to make college financially possible is daunting. The good news is that students at PPHS have a distinct advantage. They have access to a myriad of supports available to make the college application process more manageable. For starters, students who meet Purdue University’s admission requirements are ensured admission to many of the university’s programs. PPHS students have a distinct advantage over any other applicant despite Purdue’s record-breaking student enrollment numbers and highly competitive admission rates. PPHS students also have access to a College and Career Readiness Coach (CCR Coach) who is available to help students apply for college, financial aid, and scholarships. Need help? Have questions? Just ask. The CCR Coach and all PPHS staff are personally invested in the success of each of our students. Purdue admissions staff are at each PPHS location frequently and they are committed to helping students in whatever ways they can. No other high schools in the state have the same level of access to support both at high school and from a world-renowned university like Purdue. 

Having a strong Indiana economy is critically important to PPHS because the strength of our economy will have a huge impact on students as they become workers, entrepreneurs, changemakers, and consumers. In other words, it will affect almost every part of their future. To improve Indiana's economy, we must start with the emerging workforce BEFORE they even get to the workforce. This means, of course, that schools need to do all they can to help students learn and practice the skills that will make them successful in college and beyond while they are still in high school (and earlier). It also means helping students recognize the true value of a college degree and understand that getting to college is hard work, but it is attainable – and PPHS students have a world of support to help them get there. 

Thank you, Secretary Chambers, for not only listening to and hearing PPHS students’ concerns, but for recognizing the importance of bringing the future workforce into the conversation about improving Indiana’s economy. It's a critical first step.


Published on 8/18/2022