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REALITY CHECK

Show this chart to anyone considering community college

College classroom
Getty Images
Community college classrooms are filling up, but those seats empty out pretty quickly.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A core principle in how our nonprofit organization delivers services is to help young people make informed decisions about their future. We want young people to own their decisions as opposed to us making them. This is especially true for the college application and enrollment process. Due to cost and family pressure to stay close to home, government-run colleges are a favored option. They are significantly more affordable than private colleges and, in New York City, the various divisions of the City University of New York (CUNY) can be reached by public transportation.

But often, youth who have been accepted into a four-year college at CUNY will still seriously consider enrolling into a two-year CUNY college to obtain an associate’s degree. They are easily influenced by family members or friends whose advice is based on misinformation—go to community college, get an associate’s degree, save money on tuition, and then enroll in a four-college as a third-year student. They are also told that if college doesn’t work out, after two years at a community college they will at least have a degree instead of just credits completed at a four-year college. This misconception exists all over the country.

That is why I love sharing

the chart below

 (pdf, page 5) with our youth.

First, it shows the likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree after enrolling in a community college for six years. When they see that only one in 10 complete a bachelor’s, they are shocked.

Second, even if they complete an associate’s degree, it shows the difference in earnings compared to completing a bachelor’s. An annual difference of $13,000 is tangible for them.

Usually sharing these facts is enough to make youth understand the value of investing in a four-year degree. In addition, we hope they gain the knowledge to help their friends and relatives make more informed decisions about their future.

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