The Other Reason to Start at a JuCo
If you read much about college finances you’ll soon encounter advice to attend a junior college (JuCo) en route to a four-year degree. With rare exception the justification for doing so is the relatively low cost of JuCo credits. The value of the JuCo education is typically expressed only in its relation to obtaining an overall cheaper bachelor’s degree.
Of course this is compelling news, but rarely truly exciting to a bachelor’s-minded student. We tend to equate cheaper with inferior, as is often the case with all sorts of goods and services. However, let’s now focus on another dynamic of the JuCo experience that often gets lost in the conversation: A junior college education can also provide increased earnings potential to someone seeking a four-year degree.
The majority of students who attend four-year schools today do not actually graduate within four years. In fact, a fair number drop out or remain enrolled years later. In such cases a student has invested time and money into an education but has no marketable credientials to show for it. On the other hand, a couple years at a JuCo can net you an associate’s degree. Big distinction.
Earning an associate’s on your way toward further education can have an upward impact on your earnings power. Here are a few implications of that:
- Plan B: An associate’s degree provides a bit of fall back margin in case things don’t work out as planned on the bachelor’s front. The implications of joining those who delay or forego their graduation plans aren’t as severe thanks to this addition to a resumé or job application.
- Better College Jobs: Having an associate’s degree opens up the job prospects while pursuing further education. Other students with a couple years of education under their belt are still only qualified (on paper) to run dishwashers and trim hedges, but someone with an associate’s degree will find more professional doors open to them.
- Two Are Better Than One: Upon graduation students who took a non-linear JuCo-inclusive route to graduation from a four-year institution will now have two degrees for the price of one. Marketable degree + marketable degree = better overall employability. In this competitive jobs market every advantage counts.
- Practicality And Interest: We’ve seen that some types bachelor’s degrees simply don’t have much value in the marketplace. I particularly encourage students pursuing certain fields of study, i.e. the arts and sociology, to first get an associate’s degree in a more “practical” area. This gives such a student the best of both worlds: the ability to pursue their muse in college and have some economic viability in return for their efforts. In fact, certain JuCo degrees yield more value than similar bachelor’s degrees, providing someone with a liberal arts bent the ability to earn a good income, whether full-time or on the side.
It’s certainly worth looking into something when cheap doesn’t equal lesser results. Not only do junior colleges feature lower costs they also can provide significant added benefits in pursuit of a broader education. If you seek value for your college finances, then a JuCo may be just the ticket.