Up & Coming Weekly

November 01, 2022

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM NOVEMBER 2 - 8, 2022 UCW 5 OPINION Some associate degrees have big payoffs by JOHN HOOD Suppose you are about to graduate from a North Carolina high school. Your grades are good and your pri- mary goal after graduation is to get the schooling you need for a fulfilling career with good earnings potential. Should you head off to university or enroll in your local community col- lege? For many folks, the latter is the better bet. Preston Cooper, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, produced a study last year that calculated the return-on- investment for some 30,000 bachelor's degrees conferred by public and private universities across the country. I wrote about his findings at the time, spotlighting the wide disparity of gains from say, an economics degree from Duke University (an average boost of $2.7 million in lifetime earnings, after subtracting the cost of getting the de- gree) and a chemistry degree from the same institution (a net loss of $50,000 in lifetime earnings). My point wasn't that students ought not to major in chemistry, or in a rela- tively low-paying field such as dance or drama, if it's truly their passion. But if the allure of post-secondary educa- tion is mostly the financial payoff, less-expensive options may make more sense. is year, Cooper turned his atten- tion to cost-and-earnings data for 14,000 grad-school degrees and 17,000 associate degrees and certificates. As before, his cost estimates include not only tuition, fees and charges but also the full-time wages one must forego for the period required to complete each program. On average, of course, holders of graduate degrees earn more than those who progress no further than an undergraduate degree. ey, in turn, have higher average earnings than those who progress no further than community college. But aver- ages don't necessarily speak to what individual students should do. Consider, for example, the associate degree conferred by Wake Techni- cal Community College in the field of industrial production technology. Assuming on-time completion, it has a return-on-investment of about $884,991 — higher than that of many four-year degrees conferred by nearby North Carolina State University. How about Wake Tech's degree in heat- ing, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration? Its ROI is $601,217, with salaries averaging about $44,000 at age 25 and reaching $67,000 by age 35. Sure, an N.C. State degree in a tech- nical or engineering field has a larger payoff. But what if completing such a program is beyond your capabilities? You might well be better off doing the two-year HVAC program instead of getting a bachelor's in a less-rigorous subject or (as happens all too often) never finishing your degree. Here's another example: computer technology. If you get a computer sci- ence degree from UNC-Charlotte, you can expect an average ROI of about $710,709. You can expect to make about $61,012 by age 25 and $93,896 a decade later. However, if a four-year program sounds daunting to you, you can attend Charlotte's Central Piedmont Community College. e ROI of its associate degree in computer and information sciences is an impres- sive $500,295. You won't make quite as much — perhaps $61,001 by age 35 — but you'll have begun your career years earlier and spent a lot less to get trained. ese figures all assume comple- tion on schedule. Students drop out of community colleges, too. Even after adjusting for the risk of non-comple- tion, however, the two-year programs frequently come out ahead of the four- year programs. ey cost a lot less. To be sure, educating yourself is about more than learning a trade. In today's world, however, there are other ways of educating yourself than spending four (or more) years on a university campus. At this season of Thanksgiving, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve you with a high-quality education at an affordable cost! Spring classes begin January 9– now is the time to apply and commit to pursuing your dream career! Thankful for hope through education! Over 280 programs leading to the award of associate degree, certificate, or diploma in these areas: • Business • Computer Information Technology • Engineering • Healthcare • Human Service Technology • Media & Fine Arts • Public Safety • Skilled Trades • University Transfer Let FTCC help you find your way forward as a new year arrives! www.faytechcc.edu – (910) 678-8400 – admissionscounselors@faytechcc.edu JOHN HOOD, Board Member, John Locke Foundation. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200

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