Welcome to our blog series about Iowa’s Community Colleges. Each month we’ll share thoughts and ideas on critical issues facing our Colleges and things you may not know about this important sector of higher education.
Making “Non-Credit” Count for Business and Community
When most of us think of College, we’re thinking about courses that count for credit toward a degree. Generally, these courses follow a standard academic calendar and format. But at Community Colleges, there is another set of opportunities sometimes referred to as “non-credit”, which can be confusing! While these courses and trainings don’t offer traditional “credit”, they “count” in many other ways. Many Iowa Community Colleges refer to this part of their work as things like Continuing Education, Lifelong Learning, Workforce Training, or Short-Term Training. It’s hard to find the right terms to describe such a wide range of educational opportunities.
Workforce and Vocational Training
Some careers require a more traditional degree, but others require skills that can be built through short-term training programs and certifications. These educational opportunities focus in on the skills you need for success in things like health care and transportation and can often be done in shorter amounts of time (weeks, not months or years!) Sometimes these courses can help students earn a professional license in things like human resources, real estate, and bus driving. Community Colleges also work with businesses to offer training directly to their employees to build new skills, learn new equipment, or meet workplace safety standards.
Even after getting a degree or credential, some people want to or must continue their education to stay successful. In some fields, continuing education credits (CEUs) are an annual expectation. For other people, learning a new skills or area of work helps them move up or get more pay. Community Colleges offer a variety of opportunities for individuals and sometimes in connection with employers.
Adult Education and Literacy
Not everyone has had the opportunity to finish high school or get the skills needed to engage in the workforce and life. Community Colleges offer opportunities for high-school education equivalency diplomas and courses in literacy and the English language that can help set people up for future education, a better job, or just the skills needed to make the most of life and their community.
While much of what Community Colleges offer is designed to prepare people for careers and work, many people are looking for learning that helps them enjoy and get the most out of life. Community Colleges offer courses in computers, cooking, art, dance, language, fitness, and a variety of other areas for learning that never stops.
At times, the justice system requires a person to rehabilitate through learning. This can include things like anger management and parenting, but is also a place for those with too many violations to earn back their right to drive.
Some Programs from our Colleges
Eastern Iowa: Microcredentials
Microcredentials are short, narrowly focused programs recognizing learning and achieved skills. Sections over a handful of weeks are completed to demonstrate a student's understanding of the materials through assessment and participation. After completion, students earn a digital badge that is logged on their transcript. Current microcredentials include education on leadership, management, and conflict to collaboration. No educational degree is required to take these courses. The College also works with area employers to provide customized microcredential programs for their employees. For more information: https://rb.gy/roh0n4
Iowa Central: Automotive Restoration Certificate
This 18-credit certificate program provides students with basic skills in the steps involved in restoring, customizing, fabricating, custom painting, various ways of metal stripping and custom design, along with the specialty tools and equipment used in today’s custom shops. For more information: https://rb.gy/7g42aq
Western Iowa Tech: Video Game Fundamentals Certificate
This 17-credit program provides specialized training for the video game art production pipeline. Students can further develop foundational artistic and technical skills that are applied to developing video game assets that include advanced modeling, texturing, physical-based shading, and lighting. This also prepares students for developing a portfolio for job applications. For more information: https://rb.gy/y4srde
Hawkeye: Bus Driver Short-Term Training
This two-week training program ensures students are fully prepared with the knowledge and skills to safely operate a commercial bus or school bus and able to obtain a Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with endorsements. Students will receive 80 hours of instruction in a classroom, on driving simulators, and by driving a full-length bus on the driving range and on the road. Topics covered will include basic operations of the bus, safe operating practices, advanced operating practices, vehicle maintenance, and non-vehicle maintenance. For more information: https://rb.gy/g6gndu
Community Colleges Evolve with their Communities
What “counts” in education and training is changing rapidly across the country. More businesses are considering a variety of credentials beyond traditional degrees and more people are seeing education as something they pursue throughout life and not just achieve in a few years. Community Colleges opportunities change all the time to keep up with these interests and demands and will continue to evolve with the communities and businesses they serve.