Why community colleges?
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5. Your child would like to undertake a career-oriented degree, such as a fashion design or computer certification program.
Programs like these are often not available at four-year institutions. If your child is thinking of seeking employment after finishing up at community college, there are several possible routes to take.
Your child can earn an associate's degree-an Associate of Arts or Science (A.A. or A.S.) or an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.). An A.A.S. usually requires specialized courses in fields such as construction technology, computer repair, or electronics, as well as several general education courses in subjects like English and math. These degrees take about two years to complete.
However, if your child wants to take courses in a specialized area of study but doesn't want to spend the time necessary to earn an associate's degree, many community colleges have certificate options that provide intensive training in a specialized field like computer-assisted drafting, food service technology, or paralegal studies. These certificates usually take six months to a year to complete.
6. Your child works and needs a flexible schedule.
At four-year colleges, course schedules are geared primarily toward full-time, traditional students who take classes during the day. At community colleges, the student population tends to be highly diverse with regard to age, experience, family background, socioeconomic level, and employment status. Course schedules are developed with attention to the variable needs of both part-time and full-time students, so classes are usually offered throughout the day and evening, and sometimes on weekends. Many of these colleges offer online courses.
Thinking through the decision
Your child will have a more satisfying experience at a community college if he researches the program in advance. Find out which programs are strongest, what the student transfer rates are, and what student support services are available. There are many ways your child can pursue his education, but the programs vary among colleges, and it's up to him to find the right match. He should make an appointment with his counselor if he's not sure. His counselor can be a helpful resource in deciding if a community college is the right place for your child to begin his college career.