College graduates pursue associate degrees

In the midst of a recession, many college graduates are pursuing associate’s degrees at community colleges after they receive their bachelor’s degree from a university.

Grad school can give a graduate a promotion in their job and better pay, but have found that earning an associate’s degree at a community college can provide the same thing as a cheaper alternative.

People are often unsatisfied with their undergraduate degree, so to get a better job with better pay, they go to a community college. Earning another degree will help them move up in the same job or provide them with extra skills that are appealing to many businesses nowadays.

Kimberly Williamson, coordinator of counseling services at Pitt Community College, said that cost makes community colleges more appealing for people who want to pursue their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. “There are a variety of reasons,” she said. “Cost is a big factor. [People] don’t want to spend more money on tuition.”

Because of the rise of college tuition and student loan debt, many students go to community colleges to pursue their degree because it is a more cost savvy option. After a student graduates, they have already acquired some student loan debt, so pursuing their education at a cheaper cost may appeal to them.

Student loan debt is also rising, because university tuition has risen over the past couple of years. According to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, in 2011, the average amount of student loan debt per borrower was $23,300.

According to College Board, the average annual tuition of a community college during the 2002-2003 academic year was over $2,129. Ten years later, during the 2012-2013 academic year, the average tuition is $3,131. For a public four-year institution, the average tuition and fees for the 2012-2013 academic year is $8,655, with the university ranging from $5,813 for in state tuition and  $19,627 out of state.

Even though community college tuition also increased, compared to a university’s tuition and fees, people are choosing community college because it is a better bargain.

Some jobs are not as popular as other jobs, so people will earn an associate’s degree in something that will better their current job or earn a different degree in a more popular field.

Some graduates have opted to apply to commnity colleges rather than graduate programs to receive better benefits and higher pay. -Meredith Baker | The East Carolinian

As a result of the recession, there has been a rise in technical field careers such as health and medicine, computer software and construction work. Community colleges were created to appeal to jobs of that nature, and because jobs in the technical field are currently popular, many people who are unsatisfied with their current job are seeking an education that is fitting for that type of career.

Community college classes can appeal to more people because of their size. The classes are smaller which allow more one-on-one time between the student and professor whereas at a university, the classes are bigger and the chance for one-on-one time is decreased.

For students who work and attend school at the same time, community college offer times that can work better with their schedule. Their classes offer more flexibility for people who work full-time or part-time. Between night classes and online classes, the variety of class times make working and going to school at the same time possible.


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