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Is College Worth it? These DVC Students Say Yes, and Here’s Why

Nov 21, 2023

When Cullen Guydon-Off arrived at DVC, he felt he really didn’t understand what it meant to be a student.  

“I didn’t have a positive experience in high school and my environment felt like a dead end. I’m glad I was able to find DVC and follow a path to what would be best for my future,” said Guydon-Off.

Guydon-Off was interested not only in academics, but also his overall college experience. “Counseling and academic advising became an entryway to see the options you have to get involved on campus. It also helped me plan my transfer path,” said Guydon-Off.  

The support Guydon-Off received inspired him to help other students have a more positive experience, leading him to become a student ambassador for DVC. “I helped students apply and register for classes. In addition to working with students who recently completed high school, I also helped adults who were returning to college or starting college for the first time. I assisted students who spoke a language other than English. I helped mothers with children, adults wanting a career change, and unhoused people seeking opportunity. I experienced the diversity of the student body, as well as the sacrifices people made to be able to enroll in college,” said Guydon-Off.

Guydon-Off is aware that the cost of college can be daunting for students and families, but he feels that DVC offers an affordable solution that can really make a difference. 

“DVC saved me money, especially at the beginning when I was unsure of my future career. DVC has really been worthwhile for my personal growth and education. I had to go through a lot to get to the point where college finally clicked for me and that was all thanks to my professors and mentors at DVC,” said Guydon-Off.

After graduating from DVC with an associate in arts in sociology, Guydon-Off transferred to UC Davis, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 2022.

“When I transferred, I felt more prepared and ready to take-on a university-level curriculum. DVC’s value really shined in that respect, and I credit the relationships I built at DVC for helping me find my love for knowledge as well as my intellectual curiosity,” said Guydon-Off.

Guydon-Off currently works for a litigation support company while studying for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). He is excited to get closer to his goal of becoming a lawyer.

“I loved my time at DVC and couldn’t have asked for a better school to start my journey. I developed better communication skills as well as built empathy for others. This helped set the foundation for the values I hold strong as I look toward my career in law,” said Guydon-Off.   

Guydon-Off is grateful that he chose a more affordable path to college by starting at DVC. But like many students today, he wondered if the cost of higher education would be worthwhile.  

Is a college education worth the cost?

Recent media reports have shown that many Americans wonder if a college degree provides a significant return on the cost of investment. Despite the headlines, a 2022 study conducted by New America found that most Americans (75 percent) feel a college degree is worthwhile.

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) say that a college degree can ensure financial security.
The overwhelming majority see the value of community colleges, with 85 percent stating that two-year institutions contribute to a strong workforce.

Most respondents (81 percent) feel that community colleges are worth the cost. 

Higher education has a meaningful impact on income

According to the U.S. Census, Americans with an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree earn a significantly higher annual salary as compared to Americans with a high school diploma. Not all careers require a degree, but these numbers are still quite significant:

Education Level                                                     Average Annual Salary 

High School Diploma / GED                                     $39,976 

Some College / No Degree                                      $48,555 

Associate’s Degree                                                  $51,161 

Bachelor’s Degree                                                   $80,478 

A smart start for a long-term career plan 

Alley Sooksumphon“Prior to enrolling at DVC, I knew I wanted a career in the medical field, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. My high school suggested that I start at DVC,” said Alexandra “Alley” Sooksumphon. 

Soon after arriving at DVC, Sooksumphon visited the DVC counseling office.

“After meeting with a few counselors, I felt extremely confident, excited, and eager to jump-start my career. Their support gave me so much clarity,” said Sooksumphon. 

Sooksumphon majored in allied health while pursuing her prerequisites for nursing programs. She graduated from DVC in May 2022. 

“This degree landed me my first job in a clinical setting! Six months later, I was accepted into the University of San Francisco’s Veterans Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership (VANAP) nursing program,” said Sooksumphon. 

Sooksumphon was born and raised in the East Bay to parents who migrated from Laos at a young age. She credits her parents for her drive and desire for a college education. Still, she was concerned about the cost of college and wondered if it would be worthwhile. 

“Attending college felt like a financial sacrifice. I was always so thankful for the DVC financial aid office, counselors, and student services who helped when it came to grants, scholarships, and other assistance. They make you feel like they are truly rooting for you,” said Sooksumphon.

The true value of college encompasses more than academics

Drone techology student at DVC“The value of attending college varies depending on one’s goals and unique circumstances. The great news is that DVC offers numerous pathways including transfer to a university, certificates, or associate degrees. You really can find your path by starting here,” said Tedmund Munoz, counseling faculty at DVC. 

Munoz feels it is important that students understand that the value of college extends beyond a quality academic program.  

“Students acquire vital soft skills that employers are looking for such as communication, critical thinking, teamwork, adaptability, and work ethic. They also gain an appreciation for diversity and the ability to bridge understanding between different perspectives. DVC is also committed to creating internships and job opportunities for students and alumni. The networking opportunities are substantial, an invaluable benefit of higher education,” said Munoz. 

Munoz understands that many students are concerned about the cost of college; however, DVC and other California Community Colleges offer some of the most affordable higher education options in the country at only $46 per unit. Additionally, DVC offers several free tuition programs:  

California College Promise Grant  

  • Awarded based on financial need.  
  • Full or part-time enrollment.  
  • Student must be a CA resident or qualify for an in-state residency exemption 

Full Time Free Tuition Award  

  • Up to two years eligibility 
  • Full-time enrollment. 
  • Must be a CA resident or qualify for an in-state residency exemption 

CalVet Fee Waiver 

  • Awarded to eligible veteran dependents 
  • Contact your county veterans services office to obtain an eligibility award code letter and submit to our financial aid office for processing   

“Even for students who are not eligible for free tuition, DVC offers a significantly lower tuition cost compared to the UC and CSU systems. Moreover, grants, scholarships, work-study and other types of financial aid are available as additional funding options,” said Munoz.   

Munoz is proud of the commitment shared by the DVC faculty, administration and staff. 

“We say that big futures start at DVC. It’s not just a tagline; it’s our belief and our promise to students. We’re here to support your journey and ensure your dream of a brighter future become a reality,” said Munoz. 

To find out more, visit the DVC Counseling Center.