The cost of higher education is at an all-time high. The long receipt including tuition, room and board, textbooks, internet connection and so much more that puts a financial strain on young college students – including access to professional business clothing.
University leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the financial challenges that going to college can cause. To relieve some of this financial burden, two local colleges have implemented free career clothing services for students attending the schools.
“If somebody wants a complete interview outfit, they may need to spend $400 or $500 on a complete outfit and shoes and accessories and so a lot of students do not have that much disposable income,” Dr. Mariana Mitova said.
Both Bowling Green State University’s Mr. Agne’s Career Collection and the University of Toledo’s Rocket Style Career Closet are working to remove the challenge of obtaining professional attire for university students.
Although they are “rival” schools, they both agree that students should have access to free professional clothing if needed.
Whether a student is going to a job fair, an interview or starting their career, it is important to make a good first impression. However, they cannot make a good first impression without feeling confident. The right outfit can give the student the confidence needed to put their best foot forward.
“It brings the opportunity for them to feel ready, where some students don’t have the opportunity to have professional clothing,” Laura Jane, manager of marketing and events at the University of Toledo’s Career Services said.
These on-campus services can make it easier for students who either cannot afford business clothes or those who are unable to travel off campus.
“For students that may have difficulties getting off campus, it’s something that’s already here. So being able to provide services that are already on campus, available for students at any time during the week is very important too,” Morgan Sowers, graduate assistant for Rocket Style said.
Both universities’ services act like real shops; students can walk in during their business hours, browse the collections, try on the clothes, talk with a stylist and, finally, rock their new outfit.
BGSU’s service offers students one free outfit per calendar year, as well as graduates from the most recent commencement, and UT’s offers current students one outfit per semester.
The shop also offers students at BGSU the opportunity to learn about their chosen careers in a real-world setting.
“I get to work with my own students in a real-life experience,” Dr. Mitova, who oversees BGSU’s career collection said. “I get to help them and coach them through donations and soliciting donations and sorting donations. But also, through displays and marketing of a shop and things like that. Working with fashion students really gives me a very hands-on approach with them.”
These services run on donations. Without help from the community, they would be unable to provide these free clothes to students. Both universities are always accepting donations of clean, nice professional clothing, with a strong need for full outfits and suit jackets.
“We’ve literally had students come into our office and change in the dressing room into the clothing that they’re going to take and go right into an interview,” Jane said. “So we really want to make sure that there’s clothing available where they can do that.”
Donations can be made to BGSU’s ‘closet’ at the office for the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development (444 Education) or at 118 Eppler Center or by coordinating a drop-off with Dr. Mitova; or more information for donations for UT’S ‘collection’ can be found here.
For more information on the services, visit https://www.bgsu.edu/career-collection for Bowling Green State University’s Mr. Agne’s Career Collection, or for the University of Toledo’s Rocket Style Career Closet, visit https://www.utoledo.edu/career/rocketstyle/.