The ROI Of An AA At A CC

LA MESA -- Now that college tuition in the US ranges from $46 at a Community College to $2200 per unit of study at a more selective four year university, it's clear that college choice matters greatly when trying to calculate what you get for your tuition fees.  We are reading a lot about how the average worker with a bachelor’s degree earns 84% more over a lifetime than a worker in a similar position without any college education. But, we also know that studying at a 4 year college is incredibly expensive begging the question: is it worth it?

As with any financial decision, the return on an investment depends on what you spend compared to what you receive over a period of time. At the lower end of the 'college cost' spectrum, $46 per unit, reside community colleges which have traditionally been the choice for high school students who could not afford a 4 year degree.  Nancy Davis, Coordinator of Grossmont College's Career Center in El Cajon, says that a wider swath of students are enrolling now in 2 year career-oriented programs. Such programs are developed with “guidance and advice from local businesses ensuring these programs provide the job skills business needs".

 Grossmont, for example, known for its Allied Health programs, offers AA degrees and certificates leading directly to jobs in cardiovascular technology, EKG/Telemetry, and disabilities services management to name just a few.

 Cuyamaca College, in Rancho San Diego, has a showcase automotive technology department. According to Pat Garity, a long time teacher within the department (and a former stock car race driver!), the auto tech program is one of the few career oriented programs where a student accepted into the program "receives a general education AA degree as well as specialized coursework in automotive technology all while being sponsored in a (paid!) job training program by General Motors or Ford".  A quick check of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website reveals that the median annual salary for an auto mechanic is $35,790.That yields a pretty good return for a few thousand dollars in tuition fees.   (see http://www.cuyamaca.edu/auto/degrees.asp and http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automoti... for more info) 

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Tags: after, career, college, community, education, graduate, jobs, tuition, unemployment

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