Community College Degrees Still Hold Value
It would be disingenuous to ignore the issues facing higher education: enrollment declines, soaring tuition, and doubts about the usefulness of college degrees. However, despite these challenges, community college degrees still hold value.
College enrollment has been in decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting both community colleges and four-year universities.
While the decline began with the pandemic, it is reflective of Americans’ doubts about higher education. These doubts have grown as tuition prices at four-year institutions have increased. These increases require many students to take on loans or pay out of pocket.
Some Americans find that getting a bachelor’s degree out of high school is simply not worth the cost. These sentiments have increased as many households have been dealing with the rising costs of basic foods and goods. However, instead of abandoning higher education as a lost cause, many may find their answers with a community college degree.
Community colleges offer many of the same benefits of a four-year university without many of the complications.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, all workers earned a median annual wage of $39,810. Most occupations that pay above the median salary range require an associate’s degree or postsecondary certification. Workers with associate degrees earn $2 million more in their lifetime than people with a high school diploma.
Even if someone finds a job without one of these qualifications, the potential for job growth and upward mobility is limited. Higher-level jobs typically require higher education degrees. However, attending community college and completing a degree offers more opportunities for high-earning jobs and upward mobility without having to incur the costs of a bachelor’s degree. The shorter timeline for associate degrees and certificate programs also allow people to return to work or enter the workforce quickly.
Moreover, if someone does wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree later on, they can save money on their degree by having earned their associate’s degree.
Students who start at a four-year university spend, on average, $10,000 more than community college students.
Community college degrees offer cost-effective savings to students and the benefits afforded by higher education.