72% of credentialed transfers earn 4-year degree

More than 61 percent of community college transfers earn a bachelor’s degree in six years.  Completion rates are much higher — 72 percent — for transfers who’ve earned a two-year degree in community college.

City Colleges of Chicago’s reinvention campaign has raised the graduation rate — from 7 percent to 12 percent. The five-year goal is 20 percent.

College is free for 5th-year students

Oregon and Colorado students can spend a “fifth year” in high school taking free community college courses leading to an associate degree.

4-year degree isn’t the only path to success

Too many Americans believe a young person who doesn’t earn a bachelor’s degree is a “second-class citizen,” says Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. “Let’s quit preaching to them that their only path to success is a four-year degree.”

Vocational certificates are growing in popularity, especially those that require a semester or two of community college. “The certificate is a good choice for the low-middle of the high-school graduation class,” said Stephen Rose, a Georgetown professor.

CC online courses help 4-year students

Four-year college students are using online community college courses to finish their degrees.

Community colleges aren’t just “second-chance” institutions.

Classes are cheap, but you can’t get in

Charging more for community college extension courses during summer and winter breaks is a necessary stopgap, editorializes the Los Angeles Times. While California is starting to restore funding to higher education, it will be years before the state’s community colleges can offer enough courses to meet demand.

Students are having trouble transferring in to the California State University system. San Jose State’s popular animation program accepts only 12 percent of transfers: Students need a 3.85 grade-point average to get in.

Credit creep raises community college costs

Credit creep is making it harder for community college students to complete an associate degree. Instead of 60 credits, many degrees require 70 credits or more. That  costs students time and money and lowers the odds they’ll earn a degree.

After two years at community college, transfers to four-year institutions are just as likely to earn a bachelor’s degree as similar students who started at the four-year college or university, an Illinois study finds.

Half of STEM jobs don’t need 4-year degree

Half of STEM jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to a new Brookings report. These jobs in manufacturing, health care, construction, installation, maintenance and repair pay $53,000 on average. That’s more than a barista with a sociology degree earns.

4-year degree is ‘ticket to nowhere’

Underemployed four-year graduates are enrolling in two-year colleges to earn job credentials. A business graduate with $60,000 in student loans calls her bachelor’s degree “just like a ticket to nowhere.” She’s now training for a certificate in paralegal studies.

“Some college” is better than a high school diploma in the workforce. If “some” means a vocational certificate in a technical field, it can lead to higher pay than a non-technical bachelor’s degree.

4-year vs. 2-year: Does college pay?

Does college pay? It will for the Stanford engineering graduate, but not for the fine arts major from an unselective college — and even less for dropouts. “With unemployment among college graduates at historic highs and outstanding student-loan debt at $1 trillion, the question families should be asking is whether it’s worth borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for a degree from Podunk U. if it’s just a ticket to a barista’s job at Starbucks,” writes Jeffrey Selingo. Meanwhile, workers with community college degrees in technical fields are doing quite well in the workforce.

Most of the fastest-growing jobs don’t require a degree, but don’t pay well either. Personal care and home health aides average less than $21,000 a year and “helpers” in construction aides average less than $30,000.

It takes a degree to be a file clerk

“The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job,” reports the New York Times.

At an Atlanta law firm, all the support staff are four-year graduates from paralegals, admins and file clerks to the $10-an-hour courier.

“College graduates are just more career-oriented,” said Adam Slipakoff, the firm’s managing partner. “Going to college means they are making a real commitment to their futures. They’re not just looking for a paycheck.”

Maybe they’re looking for a miracle. The law firm’s receptionist, who earns $37,000 a year, graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2011 with a degree in fashion and retail management. “I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now,” said Megan Parker.

“Degree inflation” is increasing, reports the Times. Many “jobs that didn’t used to require a diploma — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — are increasingly requiring one,” according to Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job ads.

Requiring a bachelor’s degree is a handy way to cut down on the huge pile of applications for every job, a recruiter tells the Times.