By Dan Bruno
How does two million additional Americans being educated and being given relevant job experience sound to those who live here? Pretty good.
President Obama is announcing an $8 billion Community College to Career fund, proposing that community colleges be given the opportunity of training two million workers for well paying jobs in high demand industries such as manufacturing. More spending on education is always good. Hey, Congress, how about making way for those fighting Americans trying to make their way toward achieving not a desirable income or a sought-after one, but one that can withstand the financial responsibilities of today’s world?
Enrollment at community colleges nationwide has increased by 25 percent over the last decade and now tops more than 6 million students. The average American who possesses an associates degree earns roughly $38,200 a year, an increase of about $8,000 over a high school graduated, but $14,000 less than someone who possesses a bachelor’s degree.
However, a bachelor’s degree can be very expensive to obtain these days with rising tuition costs. The average student pays nearly $30,000 at a public school to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Multiply that roughly three times to get the tuition bill for a bachelor’s degree at a private university at $105,000. Jobs are also not easily found after graduation, but Mr. Obama’s proposal for community colleges may help that fact.
The president wants to impose an incentive to community colleges who have set up opportunities with employers in certain fields to land their graduates permanent jobs after graduation. What better way is there to help feed a starving economy of willing and able Americans? President Obama is trying to throw a bone to those willing to attend college and pay the prices for it—albeit much lower at community colleges. But will congress follow suit? This remains to be seen.
Many students are left without work as the employment rate is still hovering around 9 percent. In the age bracket of 20-24, nearly 9 percent of graduates are unemployed after finishing their degrees. That’s nearly 1 in every 10 students that doesn’t have a job. I don’t have the statistics for those that do have employment but might not be specific to their field of study, or it may be entry-level and unpaid or poorly paid and not indicative of the average statistics for wages in that field.
How many students have you heard of that are just sitting around at their parents house after they worked a long, hard two-to-four year sentencing, regardless of the college they attended? I assure you, most of these students did not plan for this to happen nor are they happy about it. They are perfectly willing (for the most part) and able to work with the education they paid for. Therefore, Obama’s proposal to joust $8 million more into a community college fund that will aim at better educational opportunities and employment opportunities is a no-brainer.
Personally, being a community college student and having experienced a public four-year school as well, I’d like to see community colleges be challenged more and gain a reputation as harder than expected and earning higher wages. Who wouldn’t? To some, community college is a joke. Some call it thirteenth grade. Extended high school. That may be so in some places, I’ve only experienced one community college, so I can’t speak for all. However, I know the advantages in attending one with lower tuition costs, convenience of being a homebody (and the financial responsibilities that would go along with moving away to an out-of-state school or school away from home.) I also know that more employment opportunities and educational opportunities for colleges on the rise with a 25 percent enrollment increase over the last decade is self-explanatory congress.