Planning Ahead: Choosing the Community College Degree with the Best Career Potential

If you are looking for a job with serious career potential for the 21st century, a community college might be just the place to start. Two-year schools offer a wealth of degree options for in-demand industries for the local workforce and beyond. Check out these 10 community college degrees with excellent future potential.
 
Plumber
Plumbing may not be the first thing you think of when you are considering lucrative careers for the 21st century, but guess what? This industry is predicted to grow by more than 25 percent over the next 10 years, according to Yahoo Finance. The average annual salary can go up to more than $67,000 as well. While some enter the plumbing industry through an apprenticeship or on-the-job experience, an associate degree from a local community college could sweeten the pot on the employment front.
 
Veterinary Technician
If you love animals, a career as a veterinary technician might be the perfect choice. These professionals work alongside veterinarians, offering support with regular checkups, performing diagnostic examinations and assisting during surgery. A two-year degree from the right community college can launch your career in this growing field. According to Money Crashers, the projected growth for veterinary technicians over the next 10 years is around 35 percent, with an average annual salary of $30,000.
 
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
These healthcare professionals utilize ultrasound equipment to screen and diagnose a number of conditions. As this technology has grown and evolved to encompass a large number of diagnostic purposes, the need for medical sonographers has...
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Community colleges have traditionally been considered the go-to place for two-year vocational degrees or general college coursework for students that have plans to transfer to a four-year college or university. However, these institutions of higher education are increasing their program offerings to include a smattering of four-year degree options as well. Although not without their share of opposition, the four-year degree is slowly but surely becoming more common at the community college level. Check out these states and schools delving into the frontier of the four-year degree program.
 
Chattanooga State Considers Addition of Five Four-Year Programs
 
A community college in Tennessee is looking at adding five new programs to their current catalog selections. The Chattanoogan reports that Chattanooga State Community College is considering the addition of four-year degree programs in a variety of high-tech fields. The president of the college, Dr. Jim Cantanzaro, applied for approval of the programs last summer, and is still waiting for a response from Tennessee Board of Regents.
 
The community college would like to add four-year degree programs in chemical process engineering, radiological sciences, nuclear engineering, technology management, and mechatronics engineering. The programs were specifically chosen based on the local employment needs of the current workforce. Dr. Cantanzaro made it clear the goal of the program addition was to fulfill those professional needs and not to transform Chattanooga State in a full-fledged four-year school.
 
Dr. Cantanzaro also explained that 60 percent of the material in the new degree programs would be “applied,” meaning the...
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While many community colleges across the country are bursting at the seams with their increasing enrollment numbers, California schools appear to be seeing the opposite trend. The largest community college system in the U.S. is currently experiencing a 20-year low in enrollment, leaving many scratching their heads as to the cause of the decline. As the system continues to struggle to lure students, many wonder if it is the higher cost, fewer classes or poor track record that is leaving these schools lacking for students.
 
The Student Shut-Out
 
According to a report at KQED, around 600,000 community college students have been shut out of the state’s system in recent years. Budget cuts that have led to fewer course selections have contributed to the student shut-out. In addition, KQED reports on recent findings in a report by the Public Policy Institute of California, which showed a total community college student population of 2.4 million during the 2011-2012 school year. That number marks a significant decrease in enrollment from the 2.9 million students enrolled in state community colleges during 2008-2009.
 
Sarah Bohn, the lead researcher for the PPIC report, told KQED the results were “troubling.” She makes note of the fact that fewer students are pursuing higher education at a time when California requires more skilled workers to beef up its high-tech industries. It is particularly concerning considering more students are graduating from California high schools than ever before, leading some researchers to wonder whether those high school graduates are attending any...
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College is a pricy endeavor today, but at least one community college is looking for a way to help students cut the cost of a college education. Tidewater Community College in Virginia has announced plans to debut a textbook-free degree program next year. College officials estimate the pilot program could cut the cost of the degree by as much as a third by the time graduation rolls around.
 
Learning Business without Textbooks
 
The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports that Tidewater Community College will be offering an associate of science degree in business administration this fall that will require no textbook purchases throughout the program. Instead, students will use open-source educational materials, known as OER, which they will be able to access through the school’s learning management system on smart phones or tablets. The college will be the first to offer a complete degree program without any textbooks required.
 
The program was developed as a partnership between Tidewater Community College and Lumen Learning; an Oregon-based company that helps schools across the country incorporate OERs into their learning plans. The founder of Lumen, David Wiley, has advocated for open-education for the past 15 years, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. However, no school has been open to the concept of a completely textbook-free degree program until now.
 
“It’s frustrating to watch these resources keep getting created, and then watch nobody use them and the students get no benefit,” Wiley stated at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
 
The Textbook Zero Model
 
The company developed the first...
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A community college campus is typically filled with adults of all ages, books and backpacks in hand, moving from class to class. However, some community college campuses are adding a more youthful flavor to their ivied halls, with programs of all kinds designed for the younger set. Check out these innovative ways community colleges are giving younger students a taste of campus life, with special programs created just for them.
 
Science Olympiad Attracts Young Scientists
 
Mott Community College becomes a hot spot for young scientists every year, when it hosts its annual Region V Science Olympiad. According to mLive, the event attracts middle and high school students from Livingston, Lapeer, Genesee and Shiawassee. Students compete in a variety of events constructing machines, flying helicopters and designing robotics.
 
High school students participate during morning events, and middle schoolers compete in the afternoon session. Many of the events are open to the public, and the event draws a crowd of parents, teachers and interested community members. Students who come out on top in their events will advance to the state tournament of the Science Olympiad. The statewide event is to be held later this spring at Michigan University. There is also a national competition for those who do well in the state contests, which takes place at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, in May.
 
Budding Artists Find a Venue
 
Sussex County Community College finds a very different way to attract younger students from around the county. This New Jersey schools is...
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