News Alerts:

Enter your email to receive news alerts from us:

Recent:

  1. Hidden Costs of Stagnant Minimum Wage
    July 28, 2014 | By Jennifer Marsden  
  2. You’ll Never Guess Who Just Bought Half of UAB’s Football Tickets
    July 22, 2014 | By Dave Folk  
  3. For Uber Bad Ideas, Look No Further than Birmingham’s City Council
    July 21, 2014 | By Dave Folk  
  4. Right Women, Right Now (Kay Ivey)
    June 19, 2014 | By Kay Ivey  
  5. Welcome to Shawshank: Prison Reform in Alabama
    June 18, 2014 | By Steven Boydstun  
advertisement

Recent Blogs:

  1. The Northern Beltline a Boon to Northwest Birmingham
    June 4, 2014 | By Wesley Vaughn  
  2. House of Byrnes
    February 26, 2014 | By West Honeycutt  
  3. Barking up the Wrong Tree in the Alabama House
    February 25, 2014 | By Wesley Vaughn  
  4. The Sermon on the Mount-gomery
    February 20, 2014 | By Wesley Vaughn  
  5. Republicans Still Don’t Get It
    February 11, 2014 | By Michael Hansen  
  6. Not Getting Jobbed by Bentley’s Job Numbers
    February 3, 2014 | By Wesley Vaughn  
  7. The Southern Snowstorm and Sprawl
    January 31, 2014 | By Wesley Vaughn  
  8. Two Good Initiatives in Alabama That Make Me Happy
    January 24, 2014 | By Wesley Vaughn  
  9. The Crimson White Covers Sweet Home Politics Launch
    January 23, 2014 | By West Honeycutt  
  10. House Democrats’ Legislative Agenda
    January 21, 2014 | By Wesley Vaughn  

Tags:

My Journey from Philly to Birmingham, and Why It Can Help This State

  |   By: Dave Folk     |   Opinion

It was a little after the evening news when Alabama first became a part of my life. Boredom and due diligence combined to alter my life’s path when I was a senior in high school living outside of Philadelphia. My SAT scores, my GPA, my extracurriculars — every thing I needed to go to college — was there, except the college.

The SAT website used to have this awful survey that would supposedly tell you which college you would be the best fit. It was essentially the only intelligent Buzzfeed quiz. So I took this 35-page quiz with questions ranging from the serious to the seemingly asinine, and out of every university/college/ponzi scheme, the only one that it recommended for me was the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Roll Tide.

I had no real intention of moving to Alabama, which up to that point in my life I knew of solely from To Kill a Mockingbird and “Forest Gump.” Still, my father persuaded me to fly down for a campus tour during February, mostly for him to escape the frigid hell-like winters of the North. Almost immediately I fell in love with Alabama, and the Southern way of life for that matter. Within ten minutes of walking on the Quad I turned to my dad and told him where he could send his hard-earned money for the next four years. Roll Tide, Auburn sucks.

Why My Story Matters

None of you really care why I chose Alabama from a state with a far better state system of colleges and universities, but you should for a very simple reason: I stayed here. Ultimately that quiz I took would net the state of Alabama untold fortunes in tuition, and lead to a new resident who modestly contributes in state taxes.

Colleges in our state have the chance to persuade out-of-state students to settle down in Alabama. This is vital to growth because attracting college graduates to live and work here will only make this state better. As of 2009 just 22 percent of Alabama’s population had a Bachelor’s degree, not shockingly below the national average.

That undereducated population is unfortunately staying put where they came from. Over 70 percent of Alabama’s population was born in the state, above the national average of 58 percent. One of the easiest ways to better this state is to bring in well-educated outsiders and reverse the state’s brain drain.

Yet the legislature doesn’t seem to understand what an asset the colleges are to marketing the state. Over the last four years, they have slaughtered the higher education budget, and this year looks to be on track for another reduction. Between K-12, two-year colleges and four-year universities, only four-year universities are set to lose funding this year. Montgomery is taking away funding from the only one of those three educational systems that is helping Alabama’s national perception.

Ultimately the students of four-year universities will have to shoulder that loss of funding. As tuition prices for out-of-state students rises, the chances of attracting more of them go down.

Alabama needs to not only attract kids to go to college here, but attract the jobs to keep those kids here once they graduate. Only then can we drastically increase the educational attainment of the state, and establish a solid foundation for its success.

Follow Dave on Twitter at @davefolk

Dave Folk is a yankee transplant living in Birmingham, Alabama.