Thinking of Becoming a Scientist or Engineer? Consider Community College

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Thinking of Becoming a Scientist or Engineer?  Consider Community College
Learn how community college can be a great start for becoming a scientist or engineer.
Although they were once known primarily for their vocational programs and associate degrees, community colleges have expanded their programs to serve a wider audience. And while community colleges still do an outstanding job of fulfilling their original roles, community colleges have now become a center for scientific and engineering learning. 
 
In fact, in recent years, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF), more students have turned to community colleges to prepare them for a career in science and engineering. Research from the NSF study reveals interesting reasons why students begin their careers at a community college. 
 
Many scientists and engineers begin at community college
 
Community colleges are, without a doubt, great schools. They offer many different types of programs for a wide range of academic interests. Truthfully, it is no longer fair or even accurate (if it ever was) to think of them as an “easy” two-year school for those looking to earn an associate’s degree. 
 
 
Today, according to the NSF, less than 30% of community college students are looking to simply earn an associate’s degree. This means that over 70% of the students attending community colleges are looking for more than just a two-year program. These statistics reveal that many people view community colleges as a viable option when beginning their educational careers. 
In fact, according to the NSF, 44% of students who earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the physical sciences, computer and mathematical sciences, and engineering started their education at a community college. 
 
What these statistics reveal is that a larger
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Community Colleges and the Global Economy
Learn how community colleges have evolved to prepare students for the global economy.
Community colleges play an integral role in our country. In fact, according to the Community College Journal, almost one-half of the nation’s undergraduates start their post-high school educational careers at a community college. 
 
As community colleges continue to evolve, they address the importance of a global perspective for students and faculty. Globalization present in today’s economic environment means students must be prepared to face international competition. Not only have many U.S. jobs moved overseas, but also jobs available in this country require a higher level of skills than was necessary a decade ago. 
 
Educating the workforce and preparing students for this new global environment is now one of the primary goals of many community colleges. As you will see, they are embracing this challenge with innovative ideas and remarkable passion.
 
The Importance of a Global Perspective   
 
If community colleges want to prepare students to work and to succeed in the global marketplace, the first step is to build a global perspective at the school itself. That is exactly what a number of community colleges are doing. For example, Southeast Community College in Nebraska surveyed its faculty in 2004 to ascertain how syllabi reflected a global perspective. For example, did English courses incorporate literature from around the world? 
 
 
Southeast Community College also expanded its mission to include diversity education, and it now requires every staff person to complete a certain number of hours of “diversity credit” in the form of professional development activities each year. While there was some initial concern that focusing on the global
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Community Colleges and Homeland Security
Learn the important role community colleges have take in improving homeland security.
Certain events have unexpected results. The tragic of events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have unexpectedly affected community colleges throughout the United States. Such moments in American history showed the power of, and the necessity for, strong communities, and that is why community colleges around the nation have developed some of the most significant first responder training programs ever seen.
 
Although it is an easy idea to overlook, the community aspect of community college, it is just as important as the college part. Ever since their inception, community colleges were expected to support and to grow with the community they serve. Even today, the teachers, the students, the administration – and of course the programs – are all part of the community where the community college is found. They are friends, neighbors, even family. 
 
Thus, it is no surprise that when the community needs help, the community college is one of the first to offer aid. And when our national community needed help, the community colleges created first-rate first responder programs, all with the goal of strengthening our Homeland Security.
 
 
Expanding the Programs
 
After September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, the nation’s community colleges initiated significant changes in their first responder programs. Some of the newer aspects of their Homeland Security goals included:
  • Participating in national initiatives, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute, thereby becoming part of planning and training network that connects resources and training across the country.
  • Leading or engaging in statewide initiatives and setting up regional
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The Reverse Transfer Process
Learn about the reverse transfer process and how it can benefit your education.
For the majority of students in the United States, the standard road to a higher degree is as follows: it starts in elementary school, continues on into middle school, becomes the focus of the high school, and then – finally – the bachelor’s degree is earned in college. It is a pattern with which most of us are familiar.
 
However, with the increased popularity of community colleges, some are walking a different path to higher education. These students are considered Reverse Transfer Students, and if you choose to become one, you may find your educational experience greatly affected in a positive way.
 
What is a Reverse Transfer Student?
 
Although many people are comfortable with the traditional journey to higher education, some students need the opportunity to “back up” while on the road to a higher degree. 
 
These reverse transfer students have graduated high school, and they have attended college for a period of time or, in some cases, have even graduated from a traditional four-year college. For a variety of reasons, though, these students decide that the traditional four-year college is just not for them, and they embrace the opportunity to enroll in and to attend a two-year community college.  
 
Subsequently, they transfer from their four-year college and join a two-year college, and while they are moving forward in terms of their education, they are “taking a step back” by switching from a traditional college or university to a community college. Hence, they are reverse transfer students.
 
 
Why do students become Reverse
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Federal Work Study Programs: Pros and Cons for Community College Students
Learn about the benefits of a work study program for community college students.
Although community colleges are significantly more affordable than four-year institutions, the tuition, administration fees, living costs, and book expenses can add up quickly. Unfortunately, according to 2008 research conducted by the Project on Student Debt, one out of 10 community college students cannot access federal student loans. For these students, Pell Grants often become the primary source of education funding.
 
However, if your community college offers federal student loans – which the majority of large, public, non-rural campuses do – then you may want to consider federal work study (FWS) programs, which are also known as Formula Grants.  
 
Unlike other forms of financial aid that are strictly given as grants and loans, the work-study program helps fund your education through your working efforts. The federal government provides your community college with specific grants, and then your campus works with community and nonprofit organizations to create job opportunities for qualified students. You are paid an hourly wage for your work, which is typically higher than minimum wage. 
 
The advantages of work-study programs
 
Garnering real-life experience
 
Attending community college prepares you for the real world, and with a work-study program, you can take that preparation to the next level. Due to the supply of work-study jobs, you are essentially “guaranteed” a job, if you qualify for the FWS program. Due to the significant incentives employers have, you are more likely to be hired for your job of choice under the FWS program. 
 
Graduating from college with a degree is no longer sufficient for garnering an ideal job. As the economy becomes more competitive, it
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