Seymour: Top 10 things to know about community colleges
by Dr. Bill Seymour, President Cleveland State Community College
Feb 23, 2014 | 1536 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Bill Seymour
Dr. Bill Seymour
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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam recently announced his Tennessee Promise — a program to enable high school graduates to attend a Tennessee community college and colleges of applied technology free of tuition and fees.

There are many reasons why community colleges have been targeted for this major educational reform. Here are my top 10 reasons:

Quality Education: The teaching at community colleges does not take a back-seat to anyone. They are held to the same high standards as all state colleges and universities. You will find highly qualified teachers who are passionate about their work. They are dedicated to their fields of study and helping students achieve their academic and career goals.

Affordable Costs: The tuition and fees at community colleges are normally about half of four-year public colleges or universities and a fraction of private colleges. Plus community college students are eligible for the full range of state and federal financial aid. With the low cost and available financial aid, the Tennessee Promise program can provide those “last dollars” to eliminate your out of pocket costs (tuition and fees only).

Easy Access: By their nature, community colleges are open access. They exist to give everyone with a high school diploma or GED an opportunity for a college education. Students of all academic abilities select community colleges because of the many educational options they provide.

Ability to Transfer to Four-Year Colleges: More and more we see students who desire a bachelor’s degree selecting to start at a community college. Given the quality and low cost, starting at a community college provides an economical alternative.

Now with the Tennessee Promise program you can essentially cut your 4-year tuition costs in half. Plus, many students can stay at home, work and go to school to complete their associates degree. When they transfer to the college of their choice they will have the benefit of being an alumnus of both schools.

In Tennessee, community colleges offer the Tennessee Transfer Pathway (TTP) program. If you successfully complete the prescribed 60 hour program you are guaranteed acceptance as a junior at most public universities plus many private colleges as well.

Strong on Workforce Development: In addition to transfer programs community colleges offer degree and certificate programs designed to get you directly into the job market. Potential programs include Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Criminal Justice, Business Management, Office Administration, Computer Information Systems and Industrial Technology. Community Colleges have strong connections with business and industry and are positioned well to fill the demand of skilled labor in modern manufacturing today.

Good Post-Graduate Salaries: Recent reports nationally and within the State of Tennessee have indicated that many graduates of community colleges are gaining higher 1st-year salaries than students graduating from some four-year schools.

Convenient: A quality education is accessible close to where you live. You most likely do not need to move or leave your family, friends or Church. With a short commute many students are able to maintain a job while going to school. For those who plan to transfer later, this provides many opportunities to save money for future education.

Quality Facilities and Technology: With State support community colleges do an excellent job of maintaining and adding to their facilities. Highly important today in education is the accessibility and use of technology. At community colleges you will find state-of-the-art equipment in the classrooms, laboratories and learning centers. Online and distance education is also a strength at community colleges providing many additional learning opportunities.

Opportunities for Involvement: Those that do not know much about community colleges might think that little happens outside the classroom. On the contrary, community colleges offer a full array of student activities, organizations, intercollegiate and intramural sports, musical and cultural events and study abroad.

You have a great community college here in Cleveland: Our region is blessed to have many fine educational institutions and Cleveland State Community College has certainly been one of them.

For nearly 50 years Cleveland State has been serving the needs of citizens in Bradley, Miegs, Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties and dedicated to providing a quality education at an affordable price. With the prospect of the Tennessee Promise program your opportunities to advance your education and your career will be even greater.