Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 10, 2013

Grads, make county home

— Kokomo’s Ivy Tech Community College campus will hold graduation ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. May 11. Campus officials said Monday 775 students so far have applied for graduation, and they’re still accepting candidates.

Indiana University Kokomo will hand out 550 diplomas at the campus pavilion, east of Virgil and Elizabeth Hunt Hall, beginning at 10:30 a.m. May 7. And at 6 p.m. May 8, students of Kokomo’s Purdue University College of Technology will graduate at Havens Auditorium on the IU Kokomo campus.

It is our wish that the hard work and sacrifice of these graduates will be rewarded in this difficult, but recovering economy. We hope they begin the next phase of their lives in the Kokomo area. And if not here, then in Indiana.

A 2006 analysis by The Associated Press showed cities with few college graduates have difficulty providing good-paying jobs and struggle to attract workers with university degrees. College graduates raise the base income of a community, according to the report, which was based on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey of 2004.

The median income of the average American with a four-year college degree was $42,404, the report said, compared to $25,360 for the average high school graduate. About 28.2 percent of Americans over the age of 24 have a bachelor’s degree today, the Census Bureau estimates.

In Howard County, however, just 19.7 percent of residents have at least a four-year degree, according to the Census Bureau. Here, the per-capita income for all residents is $23,631, and 15.3 percent of residents live below the poverty level.

Those Howard County figures have improved within the past year.

There’s a “brain drain” in Indiana. The Hoosier State ranks near the bottom nationally in retaining and employing its college graduates, and schools here are working on remedies for the problem.

Unfortunately, the state of the economy isn’t assisting that endeavor.

Despite that, we congratulate the soon-to-be graduates of Kokomo’s IU, Purdue and Ivy Tech campuses. We salute their individual achievements and encourage them to make Howard County their permanent home.