There are four facets of post-secondary education in California: the 10 University of California (UC) campuses; the 23 California State University (CSU) campuses; the over 100 Community Colleges (CC); and the hundreds of private universities and colleges. As you begin your college education at the community college, you have many options for future educational opportunities.
California Community Colleges
Created by legislation in 1967, it is the largest system of higher education in the world, serving more than 2.5 million students with a wide variety of educational and career goals. There are 110 community colleges in California at present, each of which offer Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.
Community colleges are "two-year" schools, in that two years is the average length of full-time attendance in which to achieve an associate’s degree. Many students, however, take three years or longer to attain a degree. Students may also attend simply for enrichment purposes or to earn a certificate in a specific program (i.e., computer programming).
Entrance requirements are generous and are meant to encourage students who hope to transfer to a four-year school and students who are not on a traditional degree track. To this end, anyone who has a high school diploma or its equivalent (such as a General Educational Development [GED] diploma), or is at least 18 years of age, may attend a community college. Both CSU's and UC's coordinate their courses to make transfer to the other institutions easier. Many students who transfer to a UC or CSU school as juniors have completed their general education requirements at a CC.
Course Options: Several different educational objectives can be accomplished at a community college:
· Occupational certificates
· Associate of Arts/ Associate of Science degrees
· Preparation for transfer to a four-year university
· Personal Enrichment
A specific occupational /vocational program is selected and courses are completed from the list in the college catalog for that skill area. Examples include Automotive / Diesel Technology, Cosmetology, Criminal Justice, Drafting Technology, Culinary Arts, Child Development, Heating and Air Conditioning, Medical Assisting, etc. General education courses are not required; the focus is earning a certificate to prove proficiency in your occupational area. Most certificate programs range from 18-30 units, however, some more specialized certificates contain much higher units.
Associate Degree Programs
A community college Associate of Arts degree program is also available. The Associate Degree is granted upon completion of 60 college units, general education courses, a major (or certificate program) and a 2.0 grade point average. Each community college has their list of required general education courses. Majors are completed from lists provided in the catalog.
Lower division university course requirements can be completed at a community college. Students may then enter a four-year college as a junior to complete their bachelor's degrees. There are two general education transfer patterns at each community college, CSU and IGETC. Students must have 60 transferable units, complete the general education courses, maintain the grade point average required for the campus they select, as well as meet prerequisite coursework for their major. Prerequisite coursework for most all majors is available at the community college.
Any member of the community can enroll in coursework at the community college for general interest in the subject, personal enrichment, or career advancement. In addition to traditional academic courses, many community colleges offer Community Service programs, which are geared toward the community, and provide programs appropriate for all ages.
Salary Surfer displays median annual incomes for those who complete 179 popular programs of study including architecture, allied health, social sciences, engineering, and more. The website shows the median earnings for community college graduates two years prior to earning the award, then two years and five years after earning either a certificate or degree.
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