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MU president preaches value of education during stop

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe speaks with a group of California Middle School students about the importance of higher education.

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe speaks with a group of California Middle School students about the importance of higher education. Photo by David Wilson.

— CALIFORNIA, Mo. -- There is no greater investment in the future than a college education, the president of the University of Missouri System told California middle school students Thursday.

As part of his “Show Me Value Tour,” MU President Tim Wolfe’s visit to California was one of many appearances he has made since March to schools as far flung as St. Joseph, Moberly, Joplin, Jackson and Cape Girardeau. Wolfe, a graduate of the University of Missouri, became president of the university system a year and a half ago.

After assuming the leadership post, he said he became alarmed that the message about the benefits of getting a higher education was “getting lost.” A growing body of literature, he said, questioned the value of college because of increases in student debt and lowered job placement rates.

Wolfe said those questions may have caused some students to reconsider a college education. But he added, “There is no greater investment in the future than a college education.”

The top three reasons for going to college, according to Wolfe, are that it makes the person more employable, gives them more choices and actually generally gives them a longer life.

Although the last reason may seem odd at first, studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that, on average, those with a college degree live nine years longer than those who did not graduate from high school.

He spoke of the need for young people to make plans and figure out what direction they will take after high school.

“Choice, not chance, determines your destiny,” he said.

Higher education helps provide the possibility of more and better choices. Waiting until the junior or senior year of high school is really too late, Wolfe said.

“Now is the time to take charge of your future,” he said to the seventh- and eighth-graders in his audience.

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