There are over one thousand public and private career colleges in the United States. In the last few years, close to 840,000 Associate degrees have been awarded and over 500,000 certificates have been earned at these local colleges.
It seems many students are finding value in attending a local college. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center revealed that 46% of students who completed a four-year degree program had enrolled in a local college at some point during their educational pursuits.
Why are so many students seeking local colleges to help them reach educational goals? Convenience.
Local colleges offer the conveniences of flexible scheduling,, smaller class sizes, and online courses. They offer all this, access to a diverse student body and the option to continue your education after two-years if you choose to do so.
These conveniences can mean the difference of someone completing a degree program and receiving a degree and someone who is unable to finish a program due to obstacles like finances, time or family obligations.
Below each of these conveniences are discussed in more detail.
Smaller Campus and Classes
Not only are the campuses smaller, the number of students in a classroom are much lower than that of four year colleges. Typical class size at a local college can range between 20 and 30, while some universities allow 100 or more students to enroll in general education courses.
This means you are fighting with 100 other students for one-on-one teacher time, receiving advice or extra tutoring that professors can offer at a local college.
Smaller class size means you can receive more student-centered instruction and you can develop relationships with your peers in the class to make learning more meaningful.
It has been shown that peer feedback is an excellent way to enhance learning. You work together to help each other succeed. Group projects and discussions are a valuable tool in smaller classrooms.
Using peer support can reinforce learning, increase reasoning and critical thinking. It can also increase confidence among students in the class. Once they feel comfortable in the classroom environment, they are more likely to participate and reap the rewards of the overall classroom experience.
And they can do all of this with a group of students who are much different than themselves, allowing them to appreciate diversity in the classroom.
Access to Cultural Diversity
How great would it be to attend courses with a group of people with different backgrounds, different experiences, and different cultures? All these things can bring a new perspective to your learning experience.
After all, in the real world, and when working for future employers, your co-workers will not be identical to you. While some may share similarities, they will not all have the same backgrounds, ethnicities, cultural values or beliefs.
At your local college, you can learn about and appreciate diversity on multiple levels.
The Open Doors Report states there are over one million international students studying in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of those students are attending an American career college.
In a profile of student bodies of attending junior and career colleges, there are five most common races among students. Caucasians were the highest number of students, followed by African American, Hispanic, and Asian.
Diversity helps us break down barriers and recognize how differences can be a good thing.
Professors Are Accessible
At local colleges, you can develop a mentor type relationship with your professors. Some professors may be full-time, while others are teaching part-time. Either way, they make themselves available to you for advising.
You can contact your professor through multiple avenues, including the campus web system, email and phone.
Developing a relationship with your professor can help you during the semester and in the future when you may need references for a job or if you want to achieve more education.
Simple things you can do to enhance this mentoring relationship is to show up on time, participate in class, be respectful, show an interest in the material and meet with them during office hours to discuss actions you can take to help you reach your goals.
Quick Access to the Workforce
Attending four years of college and then entering the workforce may not be a reasonable option depending on your lifestyle, financial needs and personal goals. You may want to enter the workforce as soon as possible, even while you continue your education.
Local colleges offer faster access to the workforce through certificate programs, as well as two-year and four-year programs. While completing your course program, you can have opportunities to job shadow, or even complete a practicum in your field of study.
You get hands-on experience while maintaining the freedom and flexibility to attend college.
These are just a few of the many conveniences local colleges have to offer, making it the perfect place to begin your educational journey. You may need time to decide what you want to do with your life. You may need to save money. Local colleges have been found to meet these needs and many more.
Adapts to Your Lifestyle
Your lifestyle may be hectic, like many other students attending college. Most four-year institutions set the class times and schedules based on the school’s needs. You must adapt your lifestyle to fit the schedule of the university.
With local colleges, however, you can adapt your education to meet the needs of your lifestyle. Meaning, you have opportunities to take day or evening classes, virtual classes or the traditional in-class instruction. The number of courses you take each semester is based on your lifestyle needs and you are not rushed to complete your education in a specific number of years.
The Community College Research Center report close to 70 percent of college students work in addition to attending college, with over thirty percent of these students working more than 35 hours a week.
Because you are so busy, taking advantages of the conveniences of a local college may be the right way to help you reach your higher education goals.