It's advice almost every high school student hears: go to college and get a four-year degree.
But with tuition rising, many grads are stuck with large student loans and no guarantee of good jobs. In fact, a new report shows grads with two-year associate degrees actually make more immediately after college than those with a bachelor's degree.
Sarah Kurz already has her bachelor’s degree in theater, but is back at school to find more stable work. Instead of going back to a four-year-school, Kurz chose to study nursing at Central Texas College.
"I wanted to be able to afford school, and make a good living without having to pay off a mountain of debt," she said.
By some estimates graduates leave a four-year college with an average of $27,000 in loans.
Kurz’s sister attended a traditional university, but she found a way to pay off her debt.
"She ended up joining the Army to help pay for school after she graduated as a nurse,” Kurz said.
Just like at four-year colleges, CTC instructors say employers can expect their nursing students to hit the ground running.
"Employers know that a C-T-C graduate, nursing graduate, is a person that is prepared to go to the floor and start working,” professor Jacqueline Byrd said.
Working hard is something student Marina Wright knows well. The retired Army veteran headed to CTC to study welding after falling on hard times.
"We invested in the stock market, I lost a little bit of money like everybody else and this is a really good way for me to make up the money and get back and save up for retirement," she said.
Experts say that while associate degrees can help students earn higher salaries right after graduation, bachelor's degrees will earn graduates more in the long run.
"I'm not going to be graduating with any debt now,” Kurz said. “I don't have to worry about that because it is very very affordable."