Editorial: Students should be asked to give back later rather than sooner

Editorial Board

With participation in a commencement ceremony, and the commencement of a student’s adult life, comes the commencement of requests for donations of money.  

Before ISU students even graduate, the ISU Foundation gets in touch with them about donating money for a senior gift.  Throughout alumni’s lives, the ISU Foundation will ask for their contributions to the university’s ongoing projects such as scholarship funds and the construction and renovation of buildings.  Based on anecdotal evidence, the students making those calls have truly miserable jobs — asking strangers for money.  

Students about to graduate and recent graduates, however, are probably the worst demographic group from whom the university’s fundraising arm could ask ask for money.  As we are so often reminded, Iowa residents graduate Iowa State with an average debt load of nearly $29,000.  With persistent news about a sluggish economy, that number is (or at least should be) scary, even terrifying.  

But that’s not to say that the ISU alumni who used to shout “For ‘I,’ for ‘S,’ for ever” at the top of their lungs will never be interested in giving back to a place where they spent a considerable amount of time transitioning from wide-eyed 18-year-olds to adults ready to solve the world’s problems.  

Given a few extra years without pressure to quickly give back, we would be happy to do so.  Youth is wasted on the young, it is said, and far too many of us leave college with a desperate desire to leave college.  The sense that these were the best years of our lives will often come to college graduates years down the road as they struggle with work, mortgage payments and children.  It is then, when they yearn for the atmosphere of college and finally have the perspective to understand what college does for people, that the initial solicitations should commence.