Community college fast track to jobs
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 16:10
Everybody tells you that the four years you spend at college will shape your life and mold you into who you are going to be. It’s true: I’m only a sophomore, yet I can attest to the fact that, while I haven’t turned into an entirely new person, being at college certainly has forced me to mature and — I’ll admit — possibly even changed me a tiny bit.
I became a vegetarian freshman year. Since I’m not playing sports, I’ve had time to increase my distance running these past couple of years. I’ve changed my major multiple times, making the switch from the science-heavy field of nursing to my current double major of English and journalism. That led me to where I am now — writing this article for the school newspaper.
I’ve learned so much about who I am as a person, and have had so many crazy experiences that have led me to know what I want to do in the future. I am starting to feel as though if I blink once, these four years of my life are going to be gone.
But I have to admit, when I discovered the USA Today article revealing the fact that community college grads are actually receiving a huge increase in opportunities lately, I stopped to think. What am I doing here at Brockport for four years — paying money I don’t have, I might add — when I could be commuting to my local community college for half the time and coming out with possibly the same prospects?
According to USA Today, Labor Department figures are showing that employment for Americans with an associate's degree has increased by 578,000 in the past six months to 35.2 million, while payrolls for those with a bachelor's degree are up by only 314,000 to 46.5 million.
The article states that job opportunities are following a predictable trend. During the recession that began about five years ago, lower-skilled workers were the first ones to lose jobs. Now that the country is moving into recovery, these workers are following the natural cycle and gaining their jobs back.
Recently, there has begun to be a huge demand for skilled workers who can be trained quickly and easily. Because of this, people are popping into a community college for a mere two years, learning what they need to know, and coming out job-ready. Since 2007, enrollment has increased by 14.6 percent, as opposed to the 1.3 percent increase in the previous five years, according to USA Today.
Now, if you ask me, this sounds pretty smart. So many students take out colossal amounts of loans to attend school just for kicks. I am a prime example of this. Need I mention again how many times I’ve changed my major? I’ve got no clue what I want to do when I finish college, yet here I am, plugging away at school simply because it is what has been deemed socially acceptable as the next step for me after high school.
So does this new data on employment for community college grads undermine all of the hard work I’ve been putting in here at Brockport? Honestly, I can’t see that it does.
Throughout my short time here at Brockport I have continuously pushed myself academically. I can only imagine where I will be intellectually at the end of four years. I’ve made some of my best friends here at Brockport, and together we have made amazing memories. However, at the end of the day, I am here to learn.
I don’t think I could be in a position ready to take on the world with only an associate’s degree, because I would not only be missing out on two years of learning, I would be missing out on two years of maturing, growing and gaining unique experiences offered in the college environment.
We are a product of our actions, and as college students, we are a product of how we spend our four years here at Brockport. These are the years to make mistakes, change your major four times, live with somebody completely random for a year and simply become who you are going to be for the rest of your life. Why cut that short?
There will always be jobs waiting for you, regardless of what the analysts may say. Soon this cycle of the job market will end, and bachelor’s degrees will once again be in the highest demand. Until then, be grateful that you have the means to spend four years of your life focusing on who you want to be. The rest of the world can wait.