The Right Amount of Higher Education

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In choosing a career, it’s important to know your personal interests and talents, the job outlook for occupations matching your interests and talents, the education required, and the earnings you can expect—annually and over a lifetime.

Several recent economic studies shed light on the outlook for national and local jobs, and help answer the question, “How much higher education do I need?”

More job openings for skilled workers

A 2010 study from Georgetown University “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018,” included these two conclusions:

By 2018, the U.S. economy will create 46.8 million job openings and 63 percent of these will require workers with at least some college education.

By 2018, the postsecondary system will have produced 3 million fewer college graduates than demanded by the labor market.

While 65 percent of workers with a high school diploma and no college experience have household incomes placing them in the middle class or above, completion of an associate’s degree raises this proportion to 80 percent. Earning a bachelor’s degree pushes the proportion in the middle class or above to 86 percent.

Middle-skills jobs on the rise

One in every five jobs and nearly half of those that pay $35,000 or more a year are “middle-skills” jobs that require training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor’s degree.

These jobs include nurses, computer support specialists, auto mechanics, dental hygienists, fitness trainers, heating and air conditioning mechanics, hairstylists, paralegals, pre-school teachers, and medical laboratory technicians.

These middle-skill jobs are quite varied. In some you work with your hands, some you work with logic and numbers, and in others you work with people.

Middle-skills jobs and middle-class pay

In The College Payoff, labor market economists at Georgetown University indicate that 28 percent of workers with an associate’s degree earned more than the median earnings of workers with bachelor’s degrees.

That’s worth repeating: Nearly 3 in 10 workers with associate’s degrees earn more than half of the workers with bachelor’s degrees. The high earnings of registered nurses have a lot to do with that, but it’s not just nurses.

The economic benefit of additional education and training over a lifetime can be substantial.

Some postsecondary education, even without earning a degree, adds nearly one-quarter of a million dollars to lifetime earnings.

An associate’s degree is worth over $420,000 in lifetime earnings above what you can expect to earn as a high school graduate.

Add it up and the middle looks like a pretty nice place to be!

Craig Clagett, Laura Lyjak Crawford

FDTC Starts Weekend College Program

At FDTC, you can now earn credits toward an Associate in Arts degree by attending courses offered on Fridays and Saturdays. The courses are taught in a highly effective “blended” or “hybrid” format that includes weekend class meetings that provide interaction with your instructor and other students and online course work that you can fit into your schedule.

Classes are offered on Fridays and Saturdays, with additional instruction online and are completed in 8-week “mini-mesters”. New classes are offered throughout the year.  By attending weekend classes, you could complete your Associate in Arts degree in two years or less.

Students in the Associate in Arts degree program take classes in a small classroom environment taught by instructors, not graduate students or teaching assistants. Their first two years of education at a technical college is the same as the first two years at a four-year university, yet costs much less!

The College offers students in the program a variety of learning formats including accelerated, online, web enhanced, and hybrid courses that are transferable or lead to transferable courses to accommodate traditional and non-traditional students. Graduates of the program will have the necessary communication and analytical thinking skills to compete in a professional work environment or compete with university students entering their third year of a Baccalaureate program.

Jo Anne Collins

Quick Q & A

Q. Can I transfer my associate degree earned through the Weekend College to a four-year college or university?

A. Yes. Degrees earned through FDTC’s Weekend College are transfer programs that correspond with freshman and sophomore curriculum at most four-year colleges and universities.

Q. Can I apply for financial aid if I enroll in FDTC’s Weekend College?

A. Yes. Financial Aid is available to students who qualify. Most South Carolina residents qualify for Lottery Tuition Assistance. The College also offers tuition payment plans. For more information, visit

Q. Can I take a combination of evening, online, traditional weekday, and weekend courses while enrolled in FDTC’s Weekend College?

A. Yes. Students can choose evening, online, traditional weekday, and weekend classes to build a course plan that fits their needs.

Q. Can credits I previously earned at FDTC count toward my degree?

A. Yes. In most cases, students can easily apply completed courses to a degree program offered through our Weekend College.

Q. Can I transfer credits earned at a previous institution to FDTC?

A. Yes. Many college-level credits easily transfer to FDTC.


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