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Pathways to Degrees, Credentials, and Employment at Community Colleges

By: Tony Mayer

In the 2017-2018 academic year at community colleges, over 850,000 associate degrees were awarded, almost 580,000 certificates granted, and 19,083 bachelor’s degrees secured. Here are some success examples:

  • Valencia College in the Orlando, Florida region helps adults who want to upskill their way to better pay. The school has created what it calls its Center for Accelerated Training (CAT) approach—intensive, short bursts of training, in collaboration with nonprofits and companies, that immediately produce a valuable credential. In addition to its career express credentialing effort, Valencia offers around 90 associate degree programs in technical fields. Some of the most popular choices including nursing, cardiovascular technology, engineering technologies, entertainment-related technologies, criminal justice, and paralegal studies.

  • To address a nursing shortage in Broward County, Florida, Broward College and the local Memorial Healthcare System formed a consortium of hospitals that were willing to guarantee jobs for graduates and support continuing education for those that became licensed. Broward College helped to form a paid apprenticeship program as well for students to earn credit in information technology.

  • Miami-Dade Community College collaborated with Pixar, Viacom, Nickelodeon, Disney, and Sony to prepare individuals for careers in gaming and animation.

  • Colorado Mountain College focused on chef training for hotels, restaurants, and resorts in the Rockies.

  • Lee College in Baytown, Texas focused on preparing students for petrochemical careers with Exxon Mobil, Chevron Phillips, and others in the Houston Ship Channel area. Today the Community College Petrochemical Initiative includes nine Gulf Coast community college systems that are offering training in 14 specific job areas in the industry. The website includes a description of the related jobs in that area, the projected need, the pay for those jobs, general and educational requirements, and the local colleges with a program of study in that area.

  • Lorain Community College in Elyria, Ohio has established The MyUniversity program where students start taking college classes early in their high school career and can complete a bachelor’s degree by the age of 20, for 80% less than a conventional college track in the area. Twenty-nine career pathways lead to a bachelor’s degree in conjunction with other colleges and universities around Ohio.