College is often synonymous with four-year programs, but we shouldn’t overlook our two-year institutions

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Employers know that many of the best jobs out there today require an education found on the two-year college campus. … They’re attorneys needing paralegals, dentists hiring hygienists, and car dealerships seeking automotive technicians.

By Dr. Jermaine Whirl, vice president for economic development and corporate training, Greenville Technical College

Have you ever had one of those neighbors that you somehow never got to know, but then after years of living on the same street, you meet and realize that all along, you’ve had a lot of common ground, and it just took you awhile to find it?

Community colleges are sometimes seen as those neighbors. They’ve been around for decades, but when people in their service areas think of college, they may think of four-year institutions. Many of these people attended four-year colleges, so they encourage the next generation to follow in their footsteps.

Employers don’t view community colleges that way. They know that many of the best jobs out there today require the type of education found on two-year college campus. These are advanced manufacturers seeking mechatronics technicians, CNC operators, and experts in 3-D printing. They’re health care providers needing paramedics, nurses, and radiologic technologists. They’re attorneys needing paralegals, dentists hiring hygienists, and car dealerships seeking automotive technicians.

Even though some of their neighbors may not know what two-year colleges are all about, many others do. For 41 percent of the undergraduates who are enrolled in postsecondary education in this country, a community college is where they are studying. For them, college clearly is a two-year college. Of this group, 36 percent are the first in their families to attend college, 17 percent are single parents, and 4 percent are veterans. Some are returning to college on a two-year campus to gain job skills or to prepare for a new career, with 7 percent of those enrolled at the community college level having previously earned a bachelor’s degree.

Earning an associate degree elevates income. Someone who has completed only a high school diploma averages about $36,000 in yearly earnings. The associate degree graduate can increase that annual income to $42,600. Those who start at the two-year level and transfer can expect to earn about $60,100 once they complete a bachelor’s degree.

Why don’t some of us get to know the two-year college right around the corner? Maybe we just pass right by its parking lots without thinking about why so many cars travel there each day. At Greenville Technical College, we don’t want to be that neighbor you’ve missed getting to know anymore, so we’re hoping you’ll stop by soon to meet us.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., we’re hosting Community Fest @GreenvilleTech. We’re inviting families to come out for a fun day of learning through playtime and demonstrations. You can help create objects through 3-D printing, watch our human patient simulators in action, and find out what it feels like to ride in an ambulance. Join our child development center for a bike rodeo; get your hands on seeds and plants as you experience sustainable agriculture; and enjoy coffee, donuts, food trucks, and giveaways.

Our doors will be open, so please come on by. Learn more here.

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