HomeMarlton NewsOpinion: Burlington County College offers affordable solution for students

Opinion: Burlington County College offers affordable solution for students


With summer here, many high school graduates are deciding what to do in the next phase of their lives. Do they get a job, begin college, or both?

This choice will have a lasting effect on the rest of their lives.

With the rising cost of higher education, many believe continuing education is not a reality for themselves or their children. But, as career success becomes more and more dependent on a college education, how can anyone afford to not continue their education?

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Education continues to become more important, and more costly, causing pressure for families and a challenge for elected leaders. Community colleges throughout the nation — especially Burlington County College — have a more affordable solution for students to earn degrees. If you or a loved one is grappling with the high costs of higher education, you should make community college your first choice.

Community colleges serve as the premier educational resource within the county. Whether you are a first-time student, or returning adult, there is a program for you. Community colleges offer many educational experiences to meet educational and workforce needs, as well as top-notch academic and trades programs such as engineering and business that can put you on any career path to a successful future.

As the only institution of higher education in our county, BCC offers rigorous programs that rival many four-year institutions. Our students often do better after transferring to four-year institutions than their peers who started a baccalaureate program immediately after high school. Our faculty challenge students with innovative projects such as rigorous undergraduate research projects. And those seeking a bachelor’s degree can complete general education requirements at a community college before transferring. BCC has four quality onsite partners that offer seamless transfers: Drexel, Fairleigh Dickinson, Rutgers and Wilmington universities.

Whether you are a degree-seeking student or just looking to take a course or two, community colleges have programs that will put you ahead of the rest. Small classes give students personal attention. A diverse student body provides a broader perspective on the world. A host of services, including free tutoring, career counseling and support for the military provide tools for success. If you can dream it, community colleges can help you achieve it.

Most community colleges provide rewarding community service opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else. BCC prides itself in outstanding service to the community. Every year, our dental program teams with local dental professionals to provide free screenings, cleanings and fillings to children in need. This spring, we launched an exciting initiative called First Book at BCC in which students helped distribute more than 40,000 new books to children in need.

Community colleges often partner with local industries to provide internship and training to support their professional development and provide networking opportunities in the local business community. The student internship training helps improve resumes and prepare them for the workforce.

Not every community college is closely aligned with a military base, but because BCC is close to the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, we have a strong bond with our military neighbors who also enrich our community college experience.

Most families have already experienced the sticker shock: on average four-year institutions can cost more than $20,000 per year (double that for a private college), while community colleges often cost less than $4,000 a year. (Those figures assume a student will live at home, which isn’t always possible for a four-year institution.)

As a father of a teenager who will face this decision in a few years, I’ll get to the matter at heart for parents: bang for the buck. It’s no shock that those achieving an associate degree are more likely to have a job and earn 19 percent more than those with a high school diploma, according to federal data.

Although salaries rise along with one’s level of degree, there is objective evidence that community colleges offer a greater return on your investment.

The Hamilton Project, an economic public policy initiative of the Brookings Institution, a national nonpartisan think tank, took a measured approach to this topic and determined that career earnings of community college graduates will yield a 20 percent return on their investment, slightly higher than graduates at four-year institutions. (The study also found that either option is more profitable than traditional investments in stocks, bonds, gold or real estate.)

“Investing” in your education may be cliché, but with quantifiable data to justify that investment, it is also a sound decision that will pay off for the rest of your life. This summer, take a step toward that payoff and enroll in a community college, such as Burlington County College.

– Dr. Terrence Hardee, Vice President of Student Success at Burlington County College

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