Degrees

Community colleges have been expanding course and degree offerings. This section provides information on your options, from GED to a bachelor’s degree. Learn how you can benefit from a professional certification, find out which community colleges are offering bachelor’s degrees, and identify the top degree-producing colleges.
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Throughout his presidency, President Obama has lauded community colleges for their role in educating skilled workers in a short amount of time for a price far less than that of a four-year institution. In recent years, the President has encouraged community colleges to continue to grow by graduating 5 million more students by the year 2020. More and more institutions are finding creative ways to strengthen their student graduation rate in an effort to meet Mr. Obama’s challenge.
 
One such institution, Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, offers a program that helps students earn an associate's degree in just one year. Typically, this degree takes a minimum of two years to complete, thus the new program shaves 50 percent off the standard time commitment for an associate’s. Ivy Tech’s accelerated program, known as ASAP, has grown immensely in the four years since it’s inception. The program began at just two Indiana locations, but is now offered at nine locations throughout the state, with more locations on tap to participate beginning in 2015.
  
Compressing Education
 
Ivy Tech began its ASAP program in 2010, soon after many four-year institutions announced plans to compress bachelor's degree programs into a three-year curriculum. Colleges and universities all over the United States offer three-year bachelor’s degree programs, including:
 
       ·         Hartwick College
 
       ·         University of Toledo
 
       ·         Georgia Perimeter College
 
       ·         Southern New Hampshire University
 
All of these accelerated programs are meant to help students who cannot afford a standard college education by cutting the time in school and making the entire process more affordable.
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Students no longer need to attend a four-year university in order to obtain a bachelor's degree. More community colleges around the country have "graduated" from issuing associate's degrees to bachelor's degrees. Community college courses cost a mere fraction of public or private university options - which means that students who earn bachelor's degrees at their community college can save tens of thousands of dollars while pursuing their educational goals.
 
Unfortunately, not everyone in academia is supportive of community colleges issuing bachelor's degrees. Critics are concerned that universities will experience a drop in student enrollment, which will ultimately lead to a loss of revenues. With educational leaders and community members divided on allowing community colleges to issue bachelor's degrees, the debate is becoming increasingly heated.
 
The Growing Fight for Four Year Degrees

Community colleges in a dozen states across the country have already gained the right to issue bachelor's degrees, and more campuses are looking for the same privileges.
 
For example, as News Day reveals, Michigan is fighting loudly against state restrictions that prevent community colleges from offering 4-year degrees. As Michigan's state representative John Walsh asserts, community colleges could offer improved job training opportunities for the future of Michigan's auto workers if local campuses could issue 4-year degrees. Subsequently, Walsh introduced a new bill that would permit community colleges to offer 4-year degrees in the subjects of nursing, cement technology, and culinary arts. If the bill is approved, the large number of unemployed workers in the state
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For many Americans, withdrawing from high school prior to graduation leads to a number of closed doors. Without a high school degree, most Americans have traditionally been unable to pursue higher forms of education, as well as obtain certain jobs. The bottom line is, in order to make a decent living, a high school diploma or equivalency, as well as some college coursework is necessary.
 
Fortunately, community colleges across the country are striving to provide more programs to cater to the needs of non-high school graduates. Upon earning one’s GED, students can enroll in community college to pursue a variety of career and college degree opportunities. In some cases, both a GED and a college degree can be sought simultaneously.
 
The Short Path without College
 
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, individuals who have not earned their high school degree stand to earn far less than individuals who have earned their high school diploma, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or other advanced degrees or trainings. In fact, statistics show that high school graduates make, on average, over $7,000 more per year than workers who did not complete high school. Additionally, workers who have an associate’s degree make about $7,000 more per year than those with a high school diploma. With reduced wages, pay, and benefits, individuals who do not graduate from high school are at a considerable economic and social disadvantage. 

 
Image source: National Center for Education
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While many young students often believe that a four year bachelor’s degree will provide a greater array of job opportunities and increased salary benefits, recent findings reveal that, in some cases, an associate’s degree provides workers with similar perks to that of their four year graduate co-workers. In many careers, an associate’s degree will provide students with enough preparation and experience to compete in the job market amongst other applicants with degrees of higher education.

When deciding between pursuing a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree, students should reflect on their desired career pathway, and then review the data and information to determine which degree will act as the optimal vehicle for their professional destination.
 
Evaluating Time and Cost
 
In a time of increased tuition costs and tight economic constraints, many students are seeking out ways to cut the costs of higher education. For many students, the choice to pursue an associate’s degree may lead to greater a greater financial return, as associate’s degree programs may commonly be completed in just two years. On the contrary, bachelor’s degrees typically require four years of study; therefore, an associate’s degree can sometimes cost $80,000 less than a bachelor’s program. As an associate’s degree can be completed in a shorter period of time, leading to a decreased tuition and coursework cost, associate’s degrees can provide many students with realistic educational pathways to accommodate unique financial, scheduling, and other various personal constraints. 
 
Adding to the perk of a shorter and less expensive educational opportunity, individuals who choose to earn
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From careers in construction, electrical work, teaching, to even day care employment, nearly all careers now demand that employees maintain professional certification. Furthermore, for individuals new to their particular field, even jobs that do not require a four year degree now demand that applicants have met professional licensing standards. 
 
Providing students and professionals with easy access to affordable opportunities, community colleges are now one of the top venues for continuing education and certifications for qualified advancement.  
 
The Top-Paying Careers with Professional Licensure Requirements
 
According to DAS Human Resources, legislation was passed in 1996 that permitted the expansion of application requirements, resulting in the shift that requires many jobs to demand that all workers meet “professional licensure, degree, accreditation or certificate requirements.” While the requirements for certification and licensure may have become more stringent, data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Census Bureau, according to CNN, assert that some of the top paying jobs in the country are careers that do not require a four-year degree
 
Among the top-paying jobs are careers as an air-traffic controller, storage and distribution manager, transportation manager, and police / detective work—all of which boast of an average annual income above $60,000. The careers expand to include non-retail sales managers, real estate agents/brokers, and dental hygienists—which also average an annual income of over $58,000. 
 
While the prospects for interested candidates in these careers are financially outstanding, CNN continues to assert: “Though a college degree is not a requirement for these positions, all require moderate to extensive on-the-job
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Degrees