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Specialized vs. Generalized Post-Secondary Education

November 3, 2020
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WRITTEN BY Brittany Whitley

Although the specific missions of career/technical colleges, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities vary, higher education institutions are typically expected to provide some level of both general education and career training.

Short-term certificate programs tend to emphasize trade-specific skills and have high rates of job placement immediately after graduation. Bachelor’s degree programs, including liberal arts pathways, sometimes experience a more gradual increase in earnings that often surpass trade-specific degrees and prepare students to adapt to changing workforce needs.

It is therefore relevant to consider multiple elements when determining the return on investment of specific higher education programs, including long versus short term tradeoffs in earnings and job mobility.

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