BY TODD EVANS
In 2013, people who earned a college degree had a 2 percent lower unemployment rate than people without a college degree, according to research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
This statistic might explain Phi Theta Kappa’s Feb. 25 event. It was to “encourage students to complete their associate’s degree at the County College of Morris,” according to Aaron Del Mundo, vice president of fellowship of County College of Morris’ Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Students pledged to complete their degrees by signing their names to the Community College Completion Challenge banner in the student center.
The Community College Completion Challenge, is a nationwide event in conjunction with other organizations, including the League for Innovation in the Community College, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, American Association of Community Colleges, Center for Community College Student Engagement and Association of Community College Trustees.
The goal of the challenge is to produce 5 million more associate degree holders by the year 2020.
Many students wrestle with the decision to either complete their associate degree or to transfer to a four-year institution without it.
“It’s an easier transition overall,” said student Nicole Ferranti, in regards to transferring with an associate degree. Ferranti intends to complete her associate degree in communication.
This is compounded with the fact that if a person in New Jersey transfers to a public, in-state, four-year college or university with an associate degree from a New Jersey community college, the four- year institution must accept all of the person’s college credits, under the New Jersey Department of Education’s transfer agreement.
Furthermore, the average cost of a year of college is $20,396, as reported by the College Board. Attending CCM for two years can significantly offset those costs and help keep students financially stable after they graduate, rather than having to pay off copious amounts of student debt, due to student loans and similar things.
This is especially important at a time when the New York Federal Reserve estimates the total student debt within the United States to be close to $1 trillion.
Besides the financial and educational advantages of completing an associate degree, there are numerous other benefits.
“It shows that I worked hard for it, that I am successful in a learning atmosphere, and that I really deserved it for all my hard work,” Ferranti said.
Del Mundo seemed to agree with Ferranti about completing an associate degree. “When you set goals, it helps you accomplish them and feel good about yourself,” Del Mundo said.