US Colleges

College Trends – Accelerate Your Earning Potential with a Two-Year Degree


College Trends – Accelerate Your Earning Potential with a Two-Year Degree

It’s one of the most popular of the American dreams. Graduate from high school, spend four years in college pursuing a career you are passionate about, earn a bachelor’s degree and go on to work for a respected company while collecting a decent salary. However, since the country’s most recent recession took hold of the economy, and our pocketbooks, many students find it difficult to make this dream a reality – partially because of their parents’ inability to finance the growing costs of higher education and the decreasing likelihood they will find a job after graduation that will offer a paycheck large enough to help them repay a hefty student loan debt. So rather than carry a four-year financial burden, the trend in higher education has been an increase in enrollment in community colleges.

Community College – A Benefit to the Brain and Bank Account

Considering the average cost for a student to attend a private four-year college is $26,273 (up 4.4 percent from last year) and $7,020 annually to attend a public institution (up 6.5 percent from last year), it’s no wonder college trends show potential students and families are opting to take the two-year route to a degree. In fact, 31 percent of all full-time college students in the United States attend community colleges, and enrollment across the county has increased 24 percent for full-time participants and 17 percent in the part-time arena. With the average annual cost at about $2,544 (up 7.3%), the potential financial savings is astronomical, even when students opt to continue their education at a four-year university after completion of the two-year program.

Expanding Demographics

It’s not just the traditional recent high-school graduate signing up for courses. With the national unemployment rate hovering close to 10 percent, many out-of-work adults are contributing to college trends and heading to admission offices across the country to take advantage of opportunities at two-year community colleges. They are hoping to garner new skills or prepare to switch career paths and make themselves more marketable. Most cite affordability, a faster time to program completion versus the four-year approach, and minimal commuting time as reasons for their choice.

The White House Weighs In

President Obama has contributed to pushing college trends toward two-year programs even further. Last year he announced a $12 billion community college initiative to assist facilities in making physical plant improvements, expanding online curriculum offerings and developing programs to increase graduation rates and better prepare students to move into the workforce or to a four-year institution. The President also put a call out to community colleges to increase its number of graduates by an additional five million students by the year 2020 – an accomplishment that would help him achieve his goal of the United States being home to the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.