Community Colleges Offer More Than You Might Think

No matter what one wants to learn, chances are that a two-year college can help. Find out why everyone should get to know their local community college.

Community colleges offer programs and services for just about everyone. There are programs for degree seekers and career changers. There are developmental programs for those without a high school diploma and individuals who want to learn English. There are programs of interest for children and for seniors. Community colleges serve the needs of their communities and offer life-long learning opportunities for just about everyone.

An Overview of Community Colleges

JJC Main Campus

The first two-year college was Joliet Junior College (JJC), and it is alive and well more than 100 years after its inception. In the early years, the upstart two-year institutions were all known as junior colleges, but community college became the more common descriptor around the turn of the last century. Today there are also technical colleges which emphasize career oriented programs.

There are more than 2,000 two-year colleges. They serve geographic districts and blanket virtually every square inch of the entire United States. Some are small and serve the needs of rural communities. Some are larger than many universities with enrollments of over 20,000. In urban settings the larger institutions provide hundreds of programs.

Not only is Joliet Junior College the oldest two-year college in the United States, but it also typifies many medium to large community colleges in terms of the services it offers. Each two-year college is unique, but a look at JJC will provide an example of the many valuable programs people find at the local community college.

Community and Economic Development Programs

The “Community and Economic Development” division provides programs and services for employees and community members of all ages. There are training programs for displaced workers and customized training and consulting for companies. Children take advantage of their “Kids College,” and community residents of all ages find interesting seminars and activities as part of JJC “Lifelong Learning.” Some colleges offer programs specifically designed for seniors, and a few even organize trips.

The “Division of Adult and Family Services” helps prepare those lacking basic skills for further education and for the workplace. Community members can earn their GED. There are “Adult Basic Education and Pre-GED” programs for those needing help with reading, writing and math. JJC also offers an “English as a Second Language” and even “United States Citizenship” courses. JJC even helps the Illinois Department of Corrections prepare inmates for employment. “Workforce Development” at JJC provides training to dislocated workers who are eligible for assistance under the Workforce Investment Act. JJC also helps local companies find qualified workers, and they prepare individuals for those jobs through their “Work Certified©” program.

Transfer Programs

JJC offers associate in arts and associate in science degrees. These are two-year degrees that gain students junior status when they transfer. Through a variety of articulation agreements, these degrees as well as individual courses transfer to universities. JJC has dual enrollment agreements with 14 universities.

Like other community colleges, JJC has general education courses and courses associated with specific majors. At JJC there are courses in accounting, agriculture, anthropology, Arabic, art, biology, chemistry, computer science, criminal justice, economics, engineering, English and 30 other disciplines. JJC offers courses in eight different languages, which is more than many two-year colleges offer. They also offer unique programs like horticulture.

Career and Technical Education Programs

Similar to JCC’s technical college cousins, there are many associate of applied science degrees from which professional job seekers can choose. At JJC, there are 58 A.A.S. degrees and more than 100 certificates. Just some of those programs are automotive service technology, computer aided design and drafting, computer information systems, electronics engineering technology, industrial maintenance and nursing. Some of the more unique programs at JJC include cosmetology, orthotics and prosthetics technology and radiology technology.

Not every two-year college has as many programs as JJC offers, but most provide much more than one might expect. From grade schooler to grandparent, community colleges helps lifelong learners improve their lives.

*  This article was originally published on Suite101 June 26,2010.

© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.

Posted May 5, 2012

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