Why you should consider a community college

2014-07-07T00:00:00Z Why you should consider a community collegeJennifer E. Stoner Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 07, 2014 12:00 am  • 

If you still haven’t finalized your educational plans, attending a community college this fall is an excellent option.

For a variety of reasons, attending a residential four-year college or university is not in the plans for many students. Across the country there is an excellent network of community colleges that are terrific higher education options. Prairie State College in Chicago Heights serves individuals living in the surrounding area. Offering open admission, it is a great option for those seeking an associate degree and then transferring, or for individuals looking for career and technical training.

The public is used to seeing college rankings for four-year schools, but not as frequently for community colleges. That changed recently with the report that was done by CNN Money partnering with College Measures to rank community colleges based on “success rate.” In that survey, PSC was ranked as one of the top 25 Illinois colleges. College Measures determined the success rate on the following factors: graduating students with an associate degree within three years, or helping students to transfer to a four-year institution. College Measures is a joint venture of the American Institutes of Research and Matrix Knowledge Group. PSC earned a 49 percent success rate under College Measure’s matrix.

The timing of the survey was perfect as so many recent high school graduates are contemplating their next step in their education. Community colleges are a real alternative to a residential school, and one more students should consider. With data such as provided by the College Measures survey, more people might look closer to home for that next step.

Prairie State offers average class sizes of 17, extracurricular activities including varsity sports for men and women, and an extensive offering of student clubs. Combine those advantages with affordable tuition, and you have a great option for college. The faculty is top notch, with professors who are focused on teaching, not research. They choose to teach at a community college because they want to be in the classroom. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is one of the most successful areas at PSC, thanks to the institution receiving two STEM Grants from the U.S. Department of Education. This focus on STEM has resulted in more PSC students receiving research opportunities and scholarships to continue their education.

Depending on what you want, PSC can offer a chance to take the courses you need to transfer for that bachelor’s degree. If employment is what you are looking for, PSC offers many degrees that lead to excellent job opportunities. Nursing, dental hygiene, industrial technology, industrial electricity and automotive are just a few where graduates are finding excellent jobs after their career training and graduation.

In today’s higher education climate, community colleges are looking more and more like the smart option to start your college career. Check out what you might find at PSC by visiting prairiestate.edu.

The opinions are solely the writer's. Jennifer Stoner is the executive director of communications and marketing at Prairie State College. She can be reached at jstoner@prairiestate.edu.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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