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Alumni Notebook

Is College Necessary?

A letter from Alumni Board President Alan Hodsdon '68

After spending 13 years in education I changed careers, and for the past 20-plus years, I've been a recruiter in the high-tech industry. I have recruited numerous professional-level folks, from new grads to PhDs. So when someone asks me if I think education – and particularly a college education – is necessary to success in today's world, I have to curb my response a bit so I don't come across as sarcastic.

My dad was a truck driver, my mother worked part-time as a clerk, neither had a college degree. I was born just ahead of the "baby-boomer" generation, so my family was influenced by the tremendous growth in the United States after WWII.

Since my parents, like many others, believed that education was the key to getting ahead, there was little doubt as to whether their children were going to college. My two older brothers went on to higher education after high school, so the question wasn't whether I was going but where I was going.

During high school I was inspired by one of my teachers and decided that I wanted to go into teaching. I knew that this would require a college degree. So I joined my brothers in becoming the first generation in our family to go to college.

Choosing KSC was easy. I wanted to become a teacher but I didn't want to follow my brothers to their schools. I also wanted to be independent and Keene was far enough from Rochester that I could be. In addition, the college was affordable, it was a nice size, and it accepted me. I wasn't a very good student, but KSC was willing to give me the opportunity to mature. I am not sure that the larger schools would have.

I still have a letter my dad wrote me when I was about to quit and join the service. His words were supportive; he reminded me why I was in college and where it would potentially lead me. If I was going to succeed, I needed to start succeeding at school.

Unfortunately, my dad passed away during my junior year so he never saw me graduate and never saw the support that I received at KSC. The college became for me not only a place to learn but also a place to grow. By the end of my experience at Keene State, I had learned – through my studies, my friends, my activities, and my professors – how to be successful.

Someone asked if I knew anyone else who had experienced a major cultural change by graduating from college. I didn't have to look far: my mother-in-law. She had been widowed with two young daughters, but with the help of her parents, she attended Keene Teachers College.

She had a successful career as a teacher, as a New Hampshire state consultant in consumer and homemaking education, and then again as a teacher. One of her proudest moments was graduating with her master's degree from Keene State College on the same day that her elder daughter received her bachelor's degree – also from Keene State.

Both of my daughters had some learning problems, so school was a struggle for them at times, but they saw the value that education had provided their parents. We'd been able to move successfully from one career to another and to adapt to ongoing changes. I am proud to say that both daughters are college graduates, and they are successful today because of their education.

I have worked in the educational field, helped people with career development, enjoyed a wonderful marriage, brought up two great daughters, and had a successful career in human resources.

Now, as I am about to retire, I've asked myself if this is all because of a bachelor of education degree from KSC. No, it isn't, but I can tell you that I have lived a more prosperous, fulfilling, and exciting life as a result of my education. And I got that at Keene State College.

   Keene State College, Wisdom to Make a Difference