Pacific Daily News: Partnerships Help Students Save Money

Sunday, May 17, 2009

By Brett Kelman
Pacific Sunday News

During his freshmen year, Seo listened in on an orientation class while engineers told stories about strenuous studying at mainland schools, long hours building their homework assignments with their bare hands and finding success in the job market.

"One of the reasons I knew I wanted to become an engineer is so I could help my father and pay him back," Seo said.

His family immigrated from South Korea searching for success when he was a young child. They started a few businesses, but they didn't work out, Seo said.

Today, his father runs a local family-owned automotive shop, but four to eight years at an engineering college in the mainland is too expensive for the family's modest budget.

"Now my father is the only one working, so it is kind of hard to gather up enough money to send me to college off island," Seo said Friday. "So I thought UOG was a good choice to start off."

Earlier this month, UOG announced Seo would be the first pre-engineering student enrolled in one of two new joint programs UOG started with off-island universities. Local students can study pre-pharmacy or pre-engineering for about two years at UOG and then transfer their credits to the University of Hawaii at Hilo or the University of Iowa.

Guam's future pharmacists can transfer about 60 credits to UH. Future engineers such as Seo can take 70 credits to Iowa.

He will leave next month.

By building the foundations of their college degrees at UOG before transferring, students will save thousands of dollars. Undergraduate admissions cost about $15,000 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and about $20,000 at University of Iowa.

UOG's annual tuition is about $5,000.

Lee Yudin, dean of the UOG's College of Natural Sciences, said both programs can make lucrative professions more obtainable for local students, especially if they don't have the money to study off island throughout college.

Pharmacists can earn as much as $110,000 per year right out of school. Employees with an engineering degree could make about $80,000 per year, even before going to graduate school, Yudin said.

But school for both professions is very costly, so graduates might enter the work force deeply in debt from their school expenses. The new joint programs at UOG would lessen that debt, he said.

Yudin said high-school students and UOG freshmen who are considering a future in pharmacy or engineering should "absolutely" consider the programs.

"They could be saving a tremendous amount of money," he said.

Yudin said UOG was interested in starting similar partnerships with other schools so students could pursue degrees UOG doesn't offer -- such as pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-veterinary and pre-ophthalmology.