The financial world has had quite a year (read that as euphemism for a terrible year). Stock market tumbles, rising interest rates, collapse of cryptocurrency, inflationary pressures, and threats of a recession make the investor question where to put their money. I recommend that individually and collectively we place it where it will have the greatest good for most - in higher education.
Beyond the challenges faced by colleges in general, primarily related to enrollment, there is something worth mentioning, and that is that a college education continues to be an investment worth making, personally, regionally, and nationally.
In the fall of 2022, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed what many intuitively know: a college degree is more likely to result in higher earnings and lower unemployment rates. The higher the degree, the more the earnings and the lower the unemployment rate. Beyond economics, earning a college degree has been shown to be related to a host of positive life outcomes including longer life expectancies and better overall health.
Regionally, community colleges including North Country Community College, align their academic and non-credit programs with local workforce needs. At NCCC, that includes programs in business, health and human services, graphics and design, early childhood education and environmentally related courses of studies. In addition, individuals can prepare for emergency medicine and basic wastewater operations. Students graduating (or completing) these programs successfully will find a very favorable employment market awaiting them.
Nationally, it goes without saying that citizens who are employed, healthy, and able to contribute to their communities in meaningful ways, add value to those communities. These graduates are, in a very real way, the nurses, police officers, teachers, addictions counselors of the future. They contribute to the civic life of our communities, raise children, start businesses, employ workers, pay taxes, and help make their communities great places to live…and work.
Finally, a college education can be affordable. At NCCC, our Board of Trustees has held tuition at the 2019-2020 rates for the last four years, with in-state student tuition costing $5,280 annually. State and federal tuition assistance programs are available for those who meet the financial need thresholds, and many institutions offer scholarships.
As we enter a new year and are/or have made resolutions for improving our lives and the lives of others, let us encourage those we know to look at an investment worth making…pursuing a college degree. The dividends and benefits will be experienced for years to come.
Joe Keegan is a proud graduate of NCCC, Class of 1989 and currently serving as NCCC’s 8th president.
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