BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
With senior year looming, now is the time to weigh academic and professional options. Before graduates start tearing through job postings, they might want to consider heading back into the classroom.
Getting an associate degree from a two-year Community College program can not only open up a variety of career paths, but can also expose students to resources, groups and institutions that can help them grow professionally and intellectually.
“From my perspective, community college is the right choice for every student,” said Michael Baston, vice president of student affairs and enrollment at LaGuardia Community College.
Baston noted that associate degrees enable graduates to obtain jobs in growing industries, such as healthcare and engineering.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, jobs requiring associate degrees will grow 17.6 percent by 2022.
Some of the most popular majors at LaGuardia Community College are health sciences, business and criminal justice, according to Baston. At Queensborough Community College, students are drawn to liberal arts and sciences, business, nursing and accounting.
Community colleges not only prepare students for the professional world, but also do so affordably.
Whereas the average four-year private university cost $29,056 per year in 2013, according to the College Board, and four-year public universities cost $8,655 per year for in-state students, CUNY tuition is $4,500 per year.
“Community college really is the best pathway to the middle class,” Baston said.
Like four-year schools, community colleges offer a variety of extracurricular opportunities, from sports to student government to community service organizations. LaGuardia focuses particularly on community development opportunities, such as the 10,000 Small Businesses Program, run in partnership with Goldman Sachs, which offers entrepreneurship education to small businesses in the area.
Students at Queensborough enjoy access to the school’s cultural beacons, including the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery, the Queensborough Performing Arts Center and the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives.
Baston noted several renowned creatives who are community college graduates, such as George Lucas, Billy Crystal and Queen Latifah.
However, he is prouder of the smaller stories. He mentioned a single mother who came to LaGuardia with a GED, graduated with a 4.0 average and now studies at New York University. These successes are typical at LaGuardia, according to Baston.
“You may start here,” he said. “But you can go anywhere.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.