DANBURY, Connecticut — Western Connecticut State University recently has been ranked one of the best value universities in the state of Connecticut. WCSU holds the sixth spot on the list, which compared 23 schools in the state. PayScale, the company that compiled the list, indicated that “those who choose to go to school in the Constitution State tend to earn big after graduation.”
PayScale’s information is crowd-sourced via extensive surveying and data collection from their business subscribers, then standardized and matched using proprietary algorithms and finally analyzed and reported on. As a result, the site compiled a list of the Connecticut universities that offer the best value to those who enroll. The most important factor on this list is Return on Investment (ROI), which indicates “the amount of money you can expect to earn 20 years after getting your degree from a specific school.”
At $395,000, WCSU holds the sixth highest 20-year net ROI out of the 23 ranked universities in Connecticut. WCSU’s annual ROI is currently 8%, which makes it tied for the highest in-state institution in that category. WCSU ranks higher in 20-year net ROI than any other Connecticut state (CSCU) university.
In addition to the financial benefits, WCSU also provides a wealth of opportunities to its students and graduates. Just ask Jacob Wycoff, who benefitted from a scholarship, several internships, service and networking opportunities — and ultimately met his wife through some university connections.
“Before I graduated from high school, my parents and I sat at our northeastern Ohio dining room table with a big AAA map,” Wycoff said. “We drew a circle, the center of which represented about seven hours or less of travel from my home. Within that circle, there were seven schools that offered meteorology. I visited each campus and got accepted to all, but only truly fell in love with WestConn. I knew that at WCSU, I wouldn’t just be a number in a big program … rather, I’d be a name and a face in a small program.”
Along with his acceptance to WCSU, Wycoff received a scholarship to cover his first-year out-of-state tuition. After his freshman year, he worked several on-campus jobs, including in the Financial Aid office and as a resident assistant, which helped cover most of his tuition. “I consider myself incredibly fortunate to graduate with very little student loan debt,” he said.
Wycoff’s interest in meteorology began at a very young age. “Some of my earliest memories are building backyard weather stations with plastic cups for a rain gauge and simply looking up to marvel nature,” he said. “My passion for weather was solidified during the Blizzard of 1993. The small town I grew up in got 20+ inches of snow, and I remember as a 7-year-old being in awe. After the snow melted, I spent hours at the library checking out every weather book I could find.”
A dozen years later, Wycoff was in a meteorology class in WCSU’s White Hall, participating in a map discussion about the upcoming forecast. “All eyes were drawn to Hurricane Katrina, at the time a massive, Category 5 storm in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico,” Wycoff said. “I vividly recall a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, knowing this would be a life-changing moment for so many along the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. On Aug. 29, 2005, Katrina made landfall and the Mississippi coastline experienced a storm surge that hadn’t been seen since Hurricane Camille.”
The following Spring Break, in 2006, Wycoff was one of seven WCSU students who traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi, to aid in the relief effort through a trip organized by the campus Newman Center.
“For the first time I can remember, I got to see the true power and responsibility that meteorologists have,” Wycoff said. “I got to see how a satellite image of a powerful storm translated to incredible damage on the ground. I understood the role of precise forecasts and clear communication.”
In addition to his participation in service work like the Newman Center trip, Wycoff played football his freshman year and was a member of the Meteorology Club and Sigma Chi. He also acquired hands-on experience that aided him on his career path.
“During my time at WCSU, I was able to do three separate internships,” Wycoff said. “One in D.C., one in Baltimore, and one in New Haven at NewsChannel 8. Two of those internships used a program called WeatherBug in their weathercast, so I got a chance to test drive the software. Upon graduation, I applied to WeatherBug for a role there, using references I gained during my internship. I ended up getting the position and began working as a meteorologist in Germantown, Maryland. My role was to work closely with 100+ TV station partners using the WeatherBug software.”
Wycoff said that part of being in a small department at WCSU meant he knew everyone in the program. One of those people was Tim Pandajis, a fellow WCSU meteorology graduate who also worked at a TV station in Maryland. Pandajis introduced him to reporter Sujata Jain, who later became Wycoff’s wife.
The Wycoffs moved back to Connecticut when Sujata took a position at Channel 3 – WFSB. Jacob accepted his first full-time TV meteorology job at WesternMassNews in Springfield a few months later. That caught the eye of the executive weather producer at WBZ-TV in Boston, a station Wycoff had managed while at WeatherBug. Wycoff freelanced for WBZ while working at WesternMassNews for about 3.5 years until September 2020, when he was offered a permanent position with the CBS Boston team.
A dozen years after graduating from WCSU, Wycoff reflects on the decision that began at his Ohio kitchen table. “My life would be completely different had I not gone to WestConn — from my wife and kids to my career,” he said. “I am incredibly grateful for the path I’ve been able to follow.”
That’s some return on investment.
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.