The Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas industry has had many positive economic impacts, but it is also impacting enrollment at Beeville's Coastal Bend College.
There are many who say that Eagle Ford Shale is drawing away young people who would otherwise choose an education. Instead, they are hitting the oil fields in the hopes of making lots of money.
Folks in Bee County said that, ever since the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas boom began a few years ago, that county has gone through some big changes, and more and more, young people are choosing to chase that oil and gas money over an education.
"I have to wait two years, four years, to get a degree, then get a job; or I can go and make $40,000, $50,000 now," Bee County Judge David Silva said. "The allure is obvious."
"While we have seen a slight decline in enrollment, we don't like to look at it as we're competing, but we understand that there's a lot of opportunity out there and people are going to seize those opportunities," said Monica Cruz, public relations at Coastal Bend College. "We try to partner and offer as much as we can to help those businesses and such in the Eagle Ford Shale."
Coastal Bend College officials said they see the Eagle Ford Shale as an opportunity, and they offer students courses in safety, welding, drafting and design. They have even expanded their oil and gas technology program.
"I have a lot of friends who work in the oil field right now," student Kaleigh Boening said. "Some of them tried going to school, but then they made more money over there, so they just kind of put it on the back burner; but there are some friends who are going to work in the oil field just to make some money before they can go back to college. You know, save up and stuff."
"It's kind of like how our parents always tell us that you know, get our education first before, because you don't know how long that's going to be out there," student David Espinoza said.
"An education lasts for as long as you're able to work, and the oil field is what, 5-10 years?" student Mona Krishan said. "What are you going to do then?"
The college said receiving an education makes a young person a more lucrative employee for the oil and gas companies, and that taking safety training courses and the like will benefit you and make you more employable, and will also increase your earning power.
Some of the students at Coastal Bend College said that not everyone can afford to go to college, and so for some folks, it is an easy choice.
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