Community Colleges Cater to the Need for Real World Experience


While higher education used to be primarily concerned with giving students the opportunity to simply build knowledge, there has been a shift in recent years toward providing students with real-world skills relevant to their intended job fields. Community colleges have been at the heart of this change, helping students identify their career goals and build job experience so they graduate as more marketable employees.

Importance of Building a Career Path

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, the average community college student was 28 years old as of 2014, and the 2016 trends show similar data. Many of these students have been in the workforce already and are using their studies to further their professional development or prepare for a complete career change. Community colleges in many states are accommodating these goals by requiring students to complete internships and take part in other real-world experiences as part of their classes. This may range from formal internships at a company in the student’s chosen career field to class projects that force the student to interview experts or create solution proposals for common problems in their fields. By completing these tasks, students are able to build resumes of relevant work experience – and build networking relationships with possible future employers – before they even graduate.

How Community Colleges Are Taking Action

Another way community colleges are helping students develop their career paths is by implementing directed program pathways that help students complete their classes and get the degrees they need as quickly as possible, without changing majors several times or wasting their time (as well as their tuition money) taking classes they don’t need. These pathways center around helping students begin their college education with a clear idea of their academic and career goals, and often focus on advising efforts. This helps students graduate more quickly, meaning fewer student loans and less debt to pay off after graduation.

When students are able to move through their degree programs and find a job within their chosen industries in an efficient and cost-effective manner, they are more likely to value their community college experience as time and money well spent.

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