Increase college graduation rates, improve society

August 4, 2016

Andrea Devitt


As the 2016-2017 academic year draws near, it’s important to remember what our colleges and universities do for our local communities.

Most of us know that people who earn a college degree are likely to earn more money than people who have not completed college. However, the benefits to our communities and to society as a whole extend far beyond the individual worker.

Since college graduates generally make more money, they pay higher income taxes which help support our local, state and national economies. Furthermore, there is a greater chance degree recipients have full-time jobs that provide retirement benefits and health insurance.

College graduates are also less likely to be incarcerated; for every four high school graduates who are imprisoned, only one college graduate is imprisoned. It costs California taxpayers over $47,000 per year to house one inmate; it’s much less expensive to educate a person and the benefits of an education are exponential.

College graduates are more likely to vote. College graduates are more likely to volunteer. College graduate are more likely to be involved in their children’s education. Together, we can increase our college graduation rates.

Andrea Devitt is an academic counselor at Cuesta College.  She earned a bachelors degree in history from Loyola-Marymount University, a master’s degree in education and a master’s degree in public policy from Cal Poly SLO. She was born and raised in San Luis Obispo.


I got a degree from CP in 08. My job ‘career’ paid 35k, salary. Woohoo.


That’s “lucky”. Some people cannot find jobs. Also, central coast residents get paid in “lifestyle and sunshine” instead of pay.


Thanks Andrea you are spot on. Education is a beautiful thing and should be encouraged by and available to everyone. The more educated a society is, the more peaceful, happy, and successful it is.

Pay no attention to the ignorant, uneducated complainers here who feel compelled to whine. They love to point to Einstein, Gates, and Jobs as proof that education is pointless, never understanding that the only thing they share in common with those great and accomplished thinkers and business titans is opposing thumbs. As to the dumb dumbs that claim the lame excuse that crippling debt is unavoidable, they have zero understanding of the low cost of sending your kids to JC while they live at home before being a Junior Transfer to a CSU with a part time job. This simple solution reduces the cost of education to an affordable level for the middle class yet evidently is unattainable and unfair in the minds of the chronically mentally feeble. The reality is that many people are simply just low functioning individuals with an excuse and complaint right there handy for all of their failures.

Keep up the good work Andrea you’re doing great!


hey UC,

education starts the day the baby comes out. i can boast of three grandsons and the more you work with them the better they become. it’s too late by “college time” if the parents gave a poop that would be nice but it doesn’t seem to be what is happening.

ok,ok, my wife is a developmental and behavioral psychologist. but the other Grandma isn’t but she sure spends time with those boys.

i guess what i’m saying is that college is not the solution; it is family


Nearly any financial planner will tell you that income differential between individuals-with-degrees and non-degreee’d individuals is waaaaaay more than the cost of college.

The data are clear: if you are average (or better), and you want to increase your lifelong earning power, there is no question that a 4-year degree will do that.

Whining about college loans is just that, Whining. A college degree is as near as there is to a “sure thing” to increase earning power. A bachelor’s degree plus $60K debt is greater than no bachelor’s degree.

I believe the earning differential holds true across all majors (even art history).

Rich in MB

“Sure thing”….tell that to the Double major in Diversity and Women’s study working at WalMart.


Andre what about the middle-class folks, you know the ones who fix your car,unclog your sink work at grocery stores ect..

They pay taxes and they are the backbone of American or they were until politics got in the way.

Go to college and end up with a huge student loan that you can’t get out of no matter what. So how does that help folks spend money when they have to watch every penny for years on end?

A lot of folks who did not go to college are very successful let’s see Einstein comes to mind. Don’t look down on those who don’t go to college or just go to a trade school, you are not better than them.

Your statements about college graduates do this, that, the other tells me you only hang out with those with degrees because I know many people who don’t have degrees and do all the things you suggest.


You are making some big assumptions here. Just because Andrea does not write about working folks without college degrees in this opinion piece does not mean she is being dismissive or is oblivious to their contributions. It simply is not the subject she is writing about.

Please point out the statement Andrea makes indicating that she ‘looks down’ on people without college degrees. I don’t see anything here remotely suggesting she feels that way. In fact, Andrea is a friend of mine, and guess what? I do not have a college degree, I am blue collar through and through.

Yes, there is a serious problem with the student loan system. Part of supporting the college system in this country and making the positive changes Andrea is speaking of would be to address this situation so that college is affordable for everyone who wants to go.


It already is you just have to work and not chose a college you can’t afford.


colleges have become puppy mills


Wow, so you read a opinion supporting more education, pretend like it’s attacking “middle-class folks” so you can be offended and throw in a few personal attacks just because?

Self inflicted, defensive over the top response.


kettle, education is a piece of paper on the wall. go back to the sand lot


tomsquawk, if you read my reply in context, you would realise it has nothing to do with your comment or you can pretend I mentioned some paper and be dismissive.


Sounds great, but… college is a scam, and it becomes more of a scam all the time. There was a time when money primarily flowed to educating students and tuition/living expenses were reasonably priced. Now, course enrollments are growing, teachers are expected to do stuff not related to teaching, and the admins are bloated and overpaid. The result is that students pay a lot more and get a lot less. We graduate students with “non-lucrative” degrees $50k in debt. It seems criminal to me. It truly is embarrassing to be part of a system that indoctrinates students in the name of education and leaves many of them (or their parents) hopelessly in debt.


Cuesta is tuition free for first year, local students just out of high school.


and everyone i met from there didn’t make it through University. they had good cars, though


Quit forcing students and programs down that path. There’s too much emphasis put on getting all the students in college when so many are just not cut from that mold.

Bring back the vocational programs our schools once had. Bring back the trades. We have left so many students behind by forcing their path in a direction they have no interest in when they would absolutely excel if they received vocational training in a field of their interest.

Lets quit turning out Starbuck’s baristas with degrees in Sociology or Women’s Studies or the myriad of other ridiculous majors that have become the norm.


heck yeah


If anyone doubts the true nature of colleges today, just examine the whole “student loan” fiasco. No other loan or financial transaction is so protected (i.e. even bankruptcy often cannot clear a student loan without extraordinary circumstances).

…and that is not even considering the myopic, homogeneous view that most of academia frightfully cowers behind. However, Ms. DeVitt has good points, one does better (IN GENERAL) with a college education than one without. Obviously, that is a generalization, and there have been many (and will continue to be many) people who do very well without a college degree (e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Ben Franklin, Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates, John Glenn and on and on).

My biggest problem with education is that it is a coercive/state monopoly. The rule of thumb is: Monopolies do not last long without assistance from government. Now imagine that the government IS the monopoly, and one begins to see how problematic (from a monopoly point of view) the situation is.

When you get into higher education, a monopoly of a different, more traditional sort, emerges, and that is PEARSON. Anyone who has suffered through college knows – in a most painful financial way – Pearson. In the past 30 years, text books have increased over 800%. People love to hem and haw about “big oil” and “big pharma” and “big ” – always complaining about how greedy those profiteers in the oil and medical industry are. Never looking at the grand-daddy of greed and profit: Education. Education makes big oil and big pharma dream of what is possible through solid collusion with government (read: typical corrupt democrat party politics; but rest assured, if the incompetent republicans were to ever get their shit together, they’d also sell our souls like the democrats have for the past 60 years).

Why, just recently I registered for an online masters course, and the Pearson “access” fee (to their MyLab) was a mere $88, and included an eText (think like a kindle, but not convenient, easy, or fast in the slightest) that expired in 6 months. If I wanted the actual PAPER TEXT, why that’s just a mere $382.00. I. Kid. You. Not. Even worse is that the text was absolute GARBAGE, and everything I needed to pass the final was learned via the internet for free. When was the last time you paid over $300 for a book? Hmmmm? That was ONE class. Oh, sure, I could RENT the book for $130-150 in various places. Like that? One hundred and fifty dollars to borrow a book for 3-4 months. Nice.

You know WHY the prices are so high? Not just books and bogus “access” fees, but tuition and all the other little BS fees? Because they CAN be. What is your alternative? Oh, no college at all / no degree.


go to Trump U

Rich in MB


You just said the Emperor has No Clothes…but it needed to be said!

Rich in MB

Amen…amen and Amen Side Show Bob….

The worthless Diversity degrees handed out today are not just pre-poverty degrees the only thing those people are trained for is a Job in Government!


Are college graduates too smart to get caught or do they hire better attorneys with their higher income?

Jorge Estrada

Interesting and I somewhat agree but does this relationship hold true at Lompoc Fed Pen? Are albino’s less likely to be incarcerated? I can’t always grasp statistics but I will agree that education affords more options. My statistics would compare only the percentage of college grads that are incarcerated verses the percentage of high school grads that are incarcerated. I believe that the criminal industry, as it is today, requires stupid and wealthier criminals to fund the process, we can’t afford stupid and poor criminals. With a robust process, tax dollars are easier to justify for the funding of prisons.


sorry Andrea, but this is a sales job for your industry. whatever happened to the industrial arts? we need machinists, etc. look at the French system. btw, even Hillary believes in this “new” way of thinking.

i was indoctrinated into going to university. i was shocked when somebody joined the Coast Guard. guess who has the better pension.

my other gripe is that the college/university system has become a staging area for useless curriculum and some professor’s political view/concept.

my son didn’t bother with “college”. now he owns a prosperous company and is a professional musician.

to be fair, however, my daughter did graduate with a degree in communications. she’s a Controller for a company that, among other things, built the pool for the Beijing Olympics.

but, nothing wrong with rolling up your sleeves and becoming a great mechanic.

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