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May 2021
Exploring the Value of a College Education

In just a few days we will celebrate Commencement at Lake Land College. During this event, we take time to thank our graduates for choosing Lake Land and remind them of the tremendous gift they have given themselves by investing in a college education.

While we applaud our graduates, we continue to see contrasting perceptions of the value of a college education, as illustrated in a recently published report from the Strada Center for Education Consumer Insights that sought feedback from students attending two-year and four-year institutions throughout the country.

The good news is that 70% of the survey respondents who hold an associate degree believed their education was worth the investment. When compared to students seeking a bachelor’s degree, community college students were almost 25% more likely to feel their education would be worth the cost. The results are a strong testament to the community college experience.

The organization also surveyed people who did not yet have a degree. Of those respondents, only 35% felt an associate degree was worth the investment. Additionally, more than half of that same group did not see a link between additional education and employment opportunities during economic uncertainty.

The results of this study mirror enrollment trends we have seen over the years with our high school graduating classes. Using data from the National Student Clearinghouse, we see that approximately 33% of the district graduates do not pursue any type of advanced training or education immediately following high school. As a college, we are focusing on this segment to better understand the barriers and perceptions preventing further education, while developing opportunities and partnerships to reach this audience.

Some examples of these initiatives include new dual credit opportunities in automotive, the Effingham Regional Career Academy, Cross County Elevate, Mattoon Regional Innovation Center and the annual Manufacturing Day events throughout our region.

In addition to exposing our high school students to the value of a college education, we are committed to demonstrating the relevance of higher education to the adults in our communities. According to the Data for Decision Makers, nearly half of the population in the college district does not have a college credential or degree.

The college’s new Workforce Development Center on campus presents an excellent opportunity for partnerships among industry, faculty and the Center for Business and Industry for customized training programs that lead to college credentials and a highly skilled workforce.

The simple solution would be to find contentment in the positive aspects of this survey. However, at Lake Land we see the concerning outcomes of the survey as opportunities. We are dedicated to helping people understand there is more to college than textbooks and classes, and that an associate degree or long-term certificate can add $570,000 in additional earnings over their lifetime, according to data published by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. I welcome your thoughts and ideas on how we can work together as a community to create partnerships that promote the value of an education to all of our district residents.

Josh Bullock
Lake Land College President