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Is College Still Worth It?

Graphic of a stack of books with graduation cap on a scale with a money bag on the other side.

Wingspan, Spring 2023

Maybe you’ve seen headlines about the burden of student loans. Perhaps you’ve been wondering what a college professor can teach you that online videos can’t?

Education beyond high school remains one of the best methods for economic mobility and increased lifetime earnings. The median weekly earnings for workers with a high school diploma and no college was $809 in 2021, compared with $963 for those with an associate degree and $1,334 for those with a bachelor's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But not all colleges are created equal. Certain choices, like starting at a community college, can make financial and academic sense for some families.

Fighting the Rising Cost of College

Student loan forgiveness has been making headlines for the past year, but as many financially savvy families know, the best way to take care of loans is not to have them in the first place. This can be difficult with the rising cost of many universities, but community colleges are the secret to getting a great degree without putting a hole in your pocket. Financial aid options paired with low tuition prices mean many students do not need to take loans for their first two years of college. “We give out more than $1 million in scholarships each year. Students who submit the FAFSA and the AACC scholarship application are more likely to receive some kind of financial aid,” said Tara Carew, AACC's director of financial aid. AACC’s transfer advisors and agreements with dozens of four-year schools put students on a path for transferring and finishing their bachelor’s degrees at the school of their choice.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do (when I started college), and so I wanted flexibility. I also didn't want to commit to several thousand dollars of debt if I didn't know what I was going to do with the debt.” - Elyse Griffith, accounting major who transferred to University of Maryland, College Park

Testing the Waters

Taking college classes in high school always has been a great way for students to get a feel for the next step in their education while adding valuable credits to their transcript. Thanks to recent changes in Maryland law through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, there is an even better opportunity. Anne Arundel County Public School students can take classes at AACC without paying tuition and fees. “The new agreement with AACPS is an amazing opportunity for AACPS students who want to experience college-level coursework without the financial barrier. It brings greater accessibility to all students, said Tanya Milner, Ed.D., provost/vice president for Learning. 

“I just think it's such a great thing, because some people don't know if they want to go to college, so this is just a great way to test that out.” – Ella Martin, Arundel High School and AACC Early College Access Program (ECAP) student

Thinking Long Term

From increased opportunities for online and hybrid learning to an expectation for job readiness, there can be no doubt that higher education is changing. Students require programs that set them up for academic and career success. Whether a student plans to transfer to a four-year college or enter the workforce, AACC has a variety of programs to meet their needs. Our certificate programs and short-term trainings also can help launch students’ careers. “Students want more flexibility and to know that they’ll have a job once they finish their degree. At AACC, we work hard to meet students' needs through the top-notch programs and wide range of services we provide. We have partnerships with county employers to help our graduates find jobs and transfer pathways for those who want to continue on to a bachelor’s degree.” said Dr. Dawn Lindsay, AACC president. 

“We have an amazing Nursing program. It's one of the top rated in the northeast. It was kind of a no-brainer for me. I knew I wanted to do something quickly to start in the health care field, so I knew I wanted to go the two-year option.” – Heather Williams, nursing grad working in pediatrics at BWMC


With learning as its central mission, Anne Arundel Community College offers learning opportunities to give our students a rewarding experience that fits their lives without breaking the bank. In addition to excellent faculty and instructors who are experts in their fields, AACC offers students help with whatever they need, whether it’s academics, wellness, future planning or even emergency resources. That’s a lot more than you get from an online video!


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