The number of students enrolled in college in the United States has been dropping since 2010. In 2014, it was reported that there were over 800,000 fewer students on campuses across the United States than in 2010 when enrollment level peaked at 21 million. While many say that historically this is a sign of economic improvement – when more jobs become available, Americans tend to go to work instead of school – there is a broad and ominous perspective not taken into account.

Workers with a college degree tend to make at least twice as more as workers without one. While in the short term the decision to go to work instead of going to school makes sense – start earning money instead of going into the massive amount of debt today’s American college students face – this decision often leads to dead-end jobs and lower income potential over the span of one’s life.
What does look like?

It looks like staggering income polarization and inequality. The middle class is built on college degrees. Last year, President Obama aptly observed that, “A college degree is the surest ticket to the middle class.”

This ticket comes with a larger and larger price tag.

However, community college and for-profit college enrollment rates are dropping the fastest out of all of them. While for-profit colleges tend to be more expensive, community colleges offer an opportunity for affordable college that doesn’t require SAT scores to enroll. Many community colleges even work with local universities so students can save money by completing their first two years of a bachelor’s degree at a community college before transferring to a university to finish the bachelor’s degree. Prospective students are even forgoing affordable college options to work full time because there are jobs available and even affordable college in the United States can still cost too much.

The long view of the situation looks like this:

The economy is improving and more jobs are available now. People are going back to work. When the economy is bad, people choose to take on debt and go to school for Associates, Bachelor’s and even Master’s and higher degrees. However, when people choose work over school in times when jobs are plentiful, the middle class erodes and economic health and sustainability collapses and everyone goes back to school again.

At the same time, taking advantage of a favorable job market is not something you want to miss out on, especially after years of recession. What is the solution?

Earn a degree now. In fact, you may have already earned a degree by now from the education and work experience you have already accomplished. You don’t have to forgo work opportunities presenting themselves now to miss out on future earning potential. Visit us at to learn more.


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