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Monthly Archives: February 2014


Degrees & Certificates Awarded: Trends at El Camino College and Compton Center


We recently released a report highlighting trends in degrees and certificates awarded for the years 2008-09 to 2012-13.  As a whole, student awards continued to steadily increase at both El Camino College (ECC) and ECC Compton Center, reaching a five-year peak in 2012-13.

At ECC, degrees and certificates increased by 20% and 22%, respectively. These increases yielded a total award count that exceeded 2,600 for the first time. Growth was fueled in part due to the first graduating cohorts of Associate of Arts for Transfer (A.A.-T) students, as well as strong growth in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors. There were 79 degrees earned across three different A.A.-T majors (Communications, Psychology, and Sociology). Additionally, strong increases were seen among STEM degrees and certificates, with past-year growth of 79% and 81% respectively.

Compton Center awarded a total of 380 degrees and certificates. From the previous year, degrees increased 23%, and certificates decreased 4%. The Natural Sciences division experienced the greatest growth, increasing by 200% relative to last year. Similar to ECC, Compton Center saw large growth in the number of STEM degrees and certificates awarded, with past-year growth of 300% and 900%, respectively. There were 10 A.A.-T degrees awarded at Compton Center.

At both ECC and Compton Center, the most common ethnicity of those awarded degrees was Latino. The same was true among those awarded certificates at ECC. However, the most common ethnicity among certificate-earners at Compton Center was African American.

Read the full report here


Transferring to a For-Profit Institution: Higher Flexibility Now, Lower Salary Later

By Preston Reed

Trying to decide where to transfer after attending El Camino College?  A for-profit college may seem appealing given the flexible hours which allow you to continue to work while finishing your degree.  However, that flexibility and ability to earn additional income during college may come at a cost further down the road.  A recent study from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) suggests that students who transfer from a community college to a for-profit college rather than a public or private non-profit college may suffer significant wage penalties later in life.


In addition to the cost of tuition, attending college can impact the time you can work, which can shrink your income.  This is the “opportunity cost” of attending college. On average, students who attended college (regardless of its nature) made less money while in college.  However, this “opportunity cost” was lower among students who transferred to a for-profit college than those who transferred to a non-profit college.  The authors conclude that “there is evidence that for-profit colleges do offer students a chance to work more intensively while enrolled.”  Therefore, if your primary goal is to be able to continue earning a paycheck while in college, it may make sense to attend a for-profit college. But…not so fast…


Something we have to consider when we make decisions today is how this may impact us tomorrow, the next day, and so on.  Whereas transferring to a for-profit college may make sense in the short-term, how will this impact your long-term earnings? In other words, how will this decision impact your wages 5-10 years from now? 


Ten years after starting college, students who transferred from a community college to a for-profit college had their wages increase by only $5,400.  However, students who transferred from a community college to a public non-profit college saw their wages increase $12,300. This was even greater for students who transferred to a private non-profit college, with wage increases of $26,700.  The authors describe this gap as a “wage penalty” and attribute it to a lack of for-profit colleges developing human capital – a set of human characteristics (e.g., knowledge, competencies, creativity) that help someone perform a job and produce economic value.


There are several important things to keep in mind about this study.  First, the authors note that for-profit institutions can have higher tuition costs than non-profits.  If attending a for-profit college does result in “wage penalties”, this could be even worse when you consider the size of your student loan payments after graduation.  Second, we can’t be sure that the choice of college (for-profit vs. non-profit) caused higher wage increases.  It’s possible that there is some other factor that drives students to choose a for-profit college that could also be related to lower earnings gains later in life. 


Read more about it on the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), or read the full report on the CAPSEE website here.