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Our View: SOU still a good choice

At first glance, it might seem Southern Oregon University doesn't stack up well against other colleges in the state, but the raw numbers don't tell the whole story.

According to the College Scorecard produced by the U.S. Department of Education, 10 years after starting as undergraduates, SOU students earn a median annual income of $37,300. That's the lowest in the state.

But it's not far from the other three regional campuses in the Oregon University System. Eastern Oregon students earn only $500 more than former SOU students. Students from Western earn $1,200 more than those from SOU.

The winners are Oregon Health and Science University students, who earn $74,100 (most graduates work in medical jobs), and Oregon Institute of Technology, with a figure of $50,100. In between are Oregon State University at $46,400, — technical fields again — Portland State at $46,400 and the University of Oregon at $41,600.

The regional campuses, including SOU, attract local students, many of whom intend to work in the  local job market. So SOU's standing owes as much to the general level of pay in Southern Oregon as it does to the caliber of education the campus provides.

The raw numbers also don't take into account students' motivation for attending college in the first place. If students are looking to make as much money as possible, SOU won't be high on their list. But many students seek to get an education more than to maximize their income. For those students, SOU is still a good bet.