This morning, while driving my son to the park on an expedition to feed some local ducks, I tuned into a program on my local college station (KUT) that dealt with issues in getting students who attend community college to graduate and move on to four-year or graduate institutions for further degrees. I have to endorse the notion that training beyond the associate’s level is a very good idea and that many employers don’t take two-year AA or AS degrees as seriously as they take a full bachelor’s degree, be it in the art, science, enginerring, business, or whatever.
It’s also true that community colleges are the backbone of our post-secondary educational system here in North America. In the aggregate these insitutions serve more students than four-year and graduate institutions, and they also provide much of the training and education to help career changers (be that voluntary, or involuntary) gear up for their latest chosen job roles or specialties.
What I found interesting about the story is that it recounts that many students simply can’t (or choose not to) study full-time to earn their Associate’s degrees, and programs designed to be completed in two to two-and-a-half years, often take five or more years to complete. Furthermore, statistical analysis of the number of students who sign up for classes within some kind of degree plan (ignoring those just pursuing continuing education or perhaps involved in specific shorter job-training programs) shows that somewhat under half of those students actually complete their degrees and matriculate.
I understand and sympathize with busy adult learners who often have to juggle family and work responsibilities along with school, and can easily image why it’s necessary to stretch a shorter program out over a longer period of time. But folks: if you’re going to start down this path, you owe it to yourself to walk it all the way down to the end, so that you’ll have something substantial to show for the time, effort, and money you spend on school. This goes double, or better, if you or your family have to borrow money to finance this education. Nobody can make you graduate, but you can do it if you keep at it, and force yourself to finish up.
Even then, it’s best to look at the AA or AS degree as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s of some kind, so you’ll want to keep your grades up, and get some strong recommendations to see you into your next step on the higher education trail. Keep at it, keep it up, and get yourself through. Best of luck (and results) to those in the process; keep this in the forefront of your mind if community college is an option you’re pondering — for yourself, or somebody you care about (or for).