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Community College 101: Part 1

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President Barack Obama (NVCC, Alexandria, VA, March 30, 2010): Community colleges like NOVA are incredibly important because they serve a varied group of learners, from recent high school grads seeking a pathway to a college degree, to adults seeking training for the jobs of tomorrow. By forging private sector partnerships, community colleges can offer students the education and training they need to find a good job when they graduate. And it helps offer businesses the assurance they need that graduates will be ready for the jobs that they're hired to do. Narrator: This is Graduation Day at South Seattle Community College. If you look at the faces, the smiles, and watch the rush of it all, it's obvious this is a big day. It's the turn of a corner, a new beginning, the next step on a long imagined path. This is what it looks like when childhood dreams of higher education are realized. On Graduation Day the excitement is all around us, everywhere we look. To understand how all of these students, from so many different backgrounds, cultures and ages got to this final day of college, we turn the clock back to a time not so long ago when a group of students were merely considering community college as an option. This tour group of potential students is looking at why community college might make sense for them. Let's meet our tour guide on campus, and our guide through this video, an expert on choosing community college. Vanessa Reed is the director of student outreach and recruitment at South. Vanessa can tell you just about everything you need to know to get started in the community college system. So welcome to Community College 101. We hope to answer all of your questions about whether it's the right choice for you. But should you have any further questions, Vanessa will be the first to tell you there's plenty of information available to help you make a good decision. Vanessa Reed (Director of Student Outreach): So a community college... the main focus is providing a lot of resources towards the community. And whenever you say community, it's kind of a general thing, so you could have a variety of different people coming to a community college. You could have a student trying to do Running Start coming to community college, so they're trying to get college credit while also getting high school credit, and that student could be sixteen even. You could have somebody who has just been laid off coming to the community college trying to find a new way to gain some experience in another field. You could have a person coming straight from the high school, so this is their transition after they've graduated and are planning to either go into a technical field or they're thinking about going to a university later. You could also have someone in their sixties trying to come back, trying to take a class for fun. So it's providing education from a variety of different pathways. Narrator: And there is another significant advantage to attending a community college over other colleges or a four-year university. Vanessa Reed: Also, it's a place where people can get pre-college-level courses. So if English isn't their first language and they want to learn the language better, they can come and get ESL classes, English classes, to get better, and then take college classes after that. Also, adult basic education classes. Usually you can't find those types of classes at other types of colleges. You couldn't find those at a university as easily. Narrator: There are many other advantages or reasons for choosing to attend community college. Let's talk first about something we can all appreciate: cost. This is where community colleges hold a significant advantage over public and private four-year schools. Vanessa Reed: One of the best benefits of a community college is the fact that they tend to be more affordable. So compare a community college to a university, most community colleges could even save you about half of what you'd pay at a university. So, for instance, if you were going to do something like a transfer degree, you could do your freshman and sophomore year at the community college, which would be the same at a university, but you'd be saving half the tuition cost, and then you do your junior and senior year, and you come out with the same type of degree. Narrator: Community colleges are also accessible, inclusive - not exclusive. Vanessa Reed: The other main reason people tend to come to the community college is accessibility. We are an open door campus. So what that means is that we're not going to put you in competition to another student. As long as you go through the process of enrolling, you get all the things done that you need, and you enroll in your classes and pay for them, then you're accepted. And so we're not going to compare your grades. We're not going to compare your SAT scores. We're not going to look at that kind of thing because we are an open door campus. So our main focus is to provide accessibility which means we're going to provide anyone who wants to go to college a way to get started. Narrator: You'll find fewer students in each community college classroom in comparison to most universities. A smaller class size means that students can more easily get help from their instructor. Many universities have classrooms that hold as many as 700 students! Vanessa Reed: One of the highlights of the community college is the fact that we keep the classes small. On average, you're going to find around 30 students per classroom. So it you compare that to what you might find at a university, especially in freshmen type classrooms, you could possibly have up to 500 people in one classroom. So if you're trying to share one teacher to 500 students, you might not get as much one-on-one time as you would in a smaller class size. So smaller class sizes mean you're going to get more of a chance to have those one-on-one conversations with your teacher. You're going to have more time to actually get to know hopefully all of your classmates that are in that classroom. Narrator: Community colleges are also the most diverse higher education institutions. And diversity can mean a lot of things. Vanessa Reed: Another pro is the diversity that you can find at a community college. You're also going to get the opportunity to be around a lot of people coming from all different walks of life. That could be diversity in culture. For South Seattle, we're one of the most diverse campuses in Washington right now and you can hear various languages spoken, various religions represented on the campus, various different cultures that just make the richness of the community college a bit different compared to what you're going to find at a university. One of the nice things about a student going to college is that they're not just on their own. There are going to be a variety of services that they can go and tap into to get resources. So, for instance, at the campus I work at, it has a women's center where the focus is women's issues. It's open to everybody. They'll provide things like scholarships, information for people looking for scholarships maybe outside of the school, health related referrals, so if they were looking for places child care. A lot of times the women's center will just be a safe space for people to walk in and feel comfortable and have people to talk to if they have questions about finding resources in the community and on campus. The same idea with cultural centers or multicultural centers. The main focus will be things like culture. So if somebody wants to learn more about their own culture, they want to learn things about the cultures around them, or they want to do educational things based on culture as the focus. Many times they offer things like quiet places to do studying, computers, those types of things. Also, for students who are kind of transitioning there are places like career centers. So if you looking to find, get ready to start that job, once you're done with your school, you can actually start that kind of thing while you're in school. Go to the career center get help with your resume; get help with your cover letter. Many colleges have places like health centers. So if you're trying to get health information, whether that would be mental health information or physical activities, those types of things, there are a lot to choose from. My school in particular has things like the Club Center, where many of our clubs will come together and learn how to run the club, learn how to get resources to do the activities that their clubs want, get leadership training, lots of different options. So there are a lot of different options when choosing resources for campus. Tutoring is a big service that a lot of our students take advantage of. This could be tutoring that's arranged on a one-on-one basis. This could be tutoring that's arranged in a group setting where you just drop into a room that has a bunch of tutors all around and then you just raise your hand whenever you need help. And that could be in things like Math, that could be in things like writing, a lot of different types of subjects to meet the needs of what you're studying at that time. Narrator: If you don't have access to a home computer, no worries, there is plenty of free access available to you on campus. As you can see, no matter what kind of academic support you need, you will find many options for support, often for free, at a community college.

Video Details

Duration: 11 minutes and 17 seconds
Year: 2012
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Seattle Community Colleges Television
Director: Seattle Community Colleges Television
Views: 37
Posted by: scctv on Nov 2, 2012

In this two-part video you'll learn what community college is, the degrees and certificates they offer, and reasons for attending the community college. Making Achievement Possible (MAP) Video Series: MAP is a college success video series designed to help students, potential students, and their families learn to navigate the college system and gain the skills necessary for academic success. MAP consists of sixteen short videos, each with curricular materials for instructional use. All videos were funded by a Department of Education/AANAPISI grant to South Seattle Community College. More information is available at

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