Monday, April 21, 2008

Community Colleges: Preparing Workforce

Last week, on April 16, I had the opportunity to attend Community College Day at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF hosts this annual event in acknowledgment of the importance of community colleges to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and the STEM "pipeline" to the workforce.

Each year the NSF invites a featured speaker with a community college background and Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and executive director of the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, was invited last week. The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent writeup of Uri's keynote speach linked here.

Uri was studying landscape design and employed as a campus gardener at Los Angeles City College in the 1970's , when he stumbled upon a Calculus course lecture. The course instructor allowed Uri to sit in on the course during his lunch break. Uri changed his major and, as a math professor, has dedicated much of his professional life to helping minority students succeed in math courses.

There are tens of thousands of community college success stories like this - if you are not familiar with community colleges - here's some interesting stats from the American Association of Community Colleges website:

Number and Type of Colleges:
Total: 1,195
Public: 987

Independent: 177

Tribal: 31

Total: 11.5 million
Enrolled full time: 41%

Enrolled part time: 59%

Selected Demographics:
Average age: 29
Women: 60%

Men: 40%

Minorities: 35%

First generation to attend college: 39%

Single parents: 17%

Community College Students Constitute the Following Percentages of Undergraduates:
All U.S. undergraduates: 46%
First-time freshmen: 41%

Native American: 55%

Asian/Pacific Islander: 46%

Black: 46%

Hispanic: 55%

Employment Status:
Full-time students employed full time: 27%
Full-time students employed part time: 50%

Part-time students employed full time: 50%

Part-time students employed part time: 33%

What do I see when I take a quick look at these?

Almost half of all undergraduate students in the U.S. are community college students... Interpretation: If you are an employer, almost half of the people you hire with college experience will have attended a community college.

Almost 60% of current community college students attend college part time... Interpretation: They are likely working and paying their own way through school. As a result, they have a good understanding of commitment and know what it is like to work hard.

Many community college students work at least part time while going to college... Interpretation: They multi-task very well, juggling work, school, family, etc.

Many community college students are older, with an average age of 29... Interpretation: Community college students in general are more mature because they are older. Younger community college students are also typically more mature because they have been around older students in the classroom.

If your business is in the market for well prepared, hard working, intelligent, mature and committed people that can hit the ground running - don't forget your local community colleges.

To locate community colleges in your area, use the
AACC Community College Finder Site linked here.

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