Short Term Commitment – Long Term Benefits: Three Study-Abroad Options for Community College Students

For many students attending four-year colleges or universities, a semester abroad is a typical experience and one that offers a host of benefits. Students who study abroad have the opportunity to live and study within a new culture, and often have the chance to hone valuable language skills.
However, for community college students, many of whom have important responsibilities outside of the classroom, spending months away from home and work is impractical at best, and more than likely impossible.
In recent years several community colleges have identified the benefits of studying abroad, and have acknowledged the unique challenges their students face in doing so. As a result, many community colleges now offer short-term study-abroad programs, as well as traditional semester programs. In the last decades, the number of community college students who take the opportunity to study abroad has expanded tremendously, from just fewer than 4,000 students back in 2001, to almost 300,000 in 2015.
Community colleges offer programs to fit the schedules and unique learning needs of almost any student:
  • Short-term educational programs
  • Traditional semester-long programs
  • Short and long term volunteer or service learning programs
Community college students can work with study abroad program providers, who will coordinate with a student’s college to assess the credit available for different short and long term programs. They can also enroll directly with foreign universities and transfer credits when they return. Finally, students can work with their own community colleges’ programs.
Short Term Study Abroad
Several providers offer short-term study abroad programs that are ideal for busy community college students.
  • CIEE
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There’s a change coming in California.
Recently, a measure passed that allows community colleges in California to offer 4 year degrees. Until now such offerings have been the sole province of other institutions. Now, the game has changed.
On September 28, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 850 (Block) authorizing up to 15 California community college districts to offer a single Baccalaureate degree on a pilot basis. Ultimately, the goal of the bill is to create one million bachelor’s-degree jobs by 2025.
California Community Colleges Four Year 2
A Better College System
Former California State Senator Dean Florez says this measure is a powerful move in the right direction. “Allowing California Community colleges to offer four year skill-based degrees has grown from a long simmering recognition—from students, employers and government leaders—that skills matter more today than how and where they were acquired. This new four-year program offers students a more accessible and shorter education pathway with a recognized skill-based credential.” 
“Students benefit with a tailored personalized degree program directed in part by employers, blending their career needs with an affordable degree.  It is also very cost effective, given the planned BA degrees will be under $10,000 dollars, which is nearly one-half the cost of California State's four year schools and one-eighth the cost of a traditional University of California four-year degree.  Most community college students can't afford to give up four or five years of income while accumulating six-figure debt, so this degree
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Twenty-five thousand men and women work as air traffic controllers in the United States. Every year between 400 and 500 new air traffic control positions become available. Working in aviation as an air traffic controller is a lucrative career with a median salary of over $100,000 per year.
In order to become an air traffic controller, one must earn a two or four year degree in aviation control or a closely related field, pass a medical exam, a security investigation, have related work experience and pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s pre-employment tests. The first test, the bio-data assessment, assesses a worker’s experience, general education, and work habits. The second test, the AT-SAT is an eight-hour computer-based test that assesses an applicant’s knowledge directly related to air traffic control.
Two-year air traffic control degree programs are developed specifically to help applicants acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to pass the AT-SAT exam. They are intended to supplement a student’s prior experience in aviation and serve as a pathway to a qualifying to become an air traffic controller. Students with no prior aviation experience can also prepare for the FAA Academy via an accredited two-year program.
 The Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative is a partnership between the FAA and thirty different colleges and universities designed to make high quality Air Traffic Control education available to students around the country. While earning a degree from a college or university within the program does not guarantee that an applicant will get a job in aviation, it
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Working adults have long struggled with the challenges of balancing their careers, their families, and their educational goals. Community colleges offer traditional and non-traditional students the opportunity to work toward their educational goals without the lifestyle changes that come with a traditional four-year college experience. But, even with the flexibility of early morning, evening, and even Saturday classes, adult students can find it difficult to attend even local college campuses.
Convenient, Expensive, Private On-line Universities
Private online universities, sometimes called for-profit universities, actively market the convenience of attending college courses online, anytime, from anywhere. While online universities offer a convenient option for working students, they are typically far more expensive than public community colleges. For example, the total cost of a two-year degree at the online University of Phoenix is approximately $22,000, while the same two-year degree from a community college in New York would cost an in-state resident about $9,000. Community Colleges Respond to a Need for Convenience
Community college administrators understand that students often choose much more expensive college options because of convenience. As a result, they are taking steps to make community college more accessible to all students by introducing new modalities for online learning, including:
  • Blended courses
  • Online asynchronous courses
  • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)
  • Blended Courses
Sometimes called hybrid classes, blended classes combine traditional on-campus classroom instruction with online components, such as project groups, discussion boards, or recorded lectures. Students still attend scheduled on-campus classes, but not as frequently as they would with traditional classes. There are many advantages for
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As much of the country expands funding for community colleges, and with that funding, improved course offerings and increased access to higher education, Arizona has taken the unusual step of taking funding away from some of its community college systems.  In fact, according to data just released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Arizona continues its legacy in 2015 as it did in 2014: leading America in slashes to funding – and in tuition increases.   
Most impacted are two of the state’s largest community college districts – Maricopa County Community College system and Pima Community College. For several years, budget cuts for higher education spending have been the norm. However, what makes these proposed cuts significant is that it removes state funding altogether. Rather than getting a few million dollars, both the Maricopa and Pima community college systems would receive zero dollars in the next fiscal year as part of the state’s new budget.   What does this mean for students? 
Uproar from Higher Ed
Understandably, higher education officials in Arizona are not pleased with this outcome. Arizona currently ranks first in terms of higher education funding cuts. This is due in part to drastic moves by the state during the Great Recession to remain solvent. However, although the Great Recession has ended, spending is still being cut in Arizona as the state faces a $1.5 billion budget shortfall.
In fact, the latest round of proposed cuts is just one in
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Short Term Commitment – Long Term Benefits: Three Study-Abroad Options for Community College Students
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