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Though unfortunate, the recent college admissions scandal has sparked some important conversations about college admission. Most marked in those discussions is the disproportionate focus on elite colleges and universities in the schema of higher education.

You aren’t going to find a college admissions scandal at Morningside College, or within any of the colleges here in Siouxland. Nor will you find mega endowments, single digit acceptance rates and the constant shine of the national media spotlight.

You will find, though, that the education offered at colleges and universities right in your own backyard offer incredible returns to students, families and the Siouxland region.

Regardless of where the degree comes from, earning a bachelor’s degree remains the single best way to a more prosperous future. From the Pew Research Center to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the data shows that individuals who earn a bachelor’s degree make an average of $1 million more than high school graduates. That’s why fit – not the name of the college – is so important. Experience matters. Getting accepted is only the start. What counts is that a student successfully reaches graduation and moves on to their next chapter.

As for employers, the vast majority tell us that the quality of the person who earned the degree, the kind of experiences a prospective employee had in college and how prepared they are for the next chapter after graduation far outweighs the name of the college on their degree. The colleges in this area take that to heart, and most of us see the majority of our graduates staying in the region.

Plus, students at Morningside and campuses throughout our region are instilled with a strong work ethic and a deep desire to make this world a better place. I know with certainty that my fellow presidents at any college in this area could cite a great many examples of current students on their campuses doing remarkable things. As small colleges, it’s our job to connect the goals and ambitions of our students with the options and opportunities they need to flourish. The end result is a student who earns their undergraduate degree is confident thanks to their experiences in college, and successfully moves on to their next chapter and a more prosperous future.

Elite colleges and universities certainly have a place in the schema of higher education, but so do the excellent colleges found in our Siouxland region. We are proud to be a vital resource for talent, knowledge and opportunity in our Siouxland region and beyond, and we are even more proud of the students, alumni, faculty and staff at our campuses who make that possible.

John Reynders is president of Morningside College in Sioux City.

Editor's note: Tuesday Topic is a weekly Opinion page feature. Each Tuesday in this space, local, regional and state writers will discuss issues in the news. If you have an idea for a Tuesday Topic, please contact Editorial Page Editor Michael Gors at 712-293-4223 or mike.gors@lee.net.

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