This Is College

This Is College

This was previously posted on Forbes.com

By Karina Lopez

When people think of college, they may picture a movie scene in a typical quad, library, or classroom. But college offers more beyond these traditional images. College provides opportunities for students to engage in areas of study they might not expect, programs leading to certifications and degrees with interactive, hands-on experiences outside the classroom. In fact, what is the very notion of a classroom in the 21st Century? It’s the place where students learn anywhere and everywhere that advances them toward upward mobility!

The College Promise Campaign is celebrating the second week of National Community College Month by highlighting free community college programs that are unusual. Some call them nontraditional, but we call them 21st Century programs of study. Our “This is College” video shows you the “unexpected” programs of study and seeks to counteract the myth that not everyone needs an education beyond high school. No matter what background students come from or where their interests lie, there is a place for everyone at our community colleges.

Here are some of the extraordinary programs we are highlighting this week!

Surgical Technology – Harper College (Palatine, IL)

“This is College” takes viewers to the surgery room where students gain experience through clinical assignments and learn how to provide surgical care to patients. Surgical technology is a rapidly growing field, so after graduation, students have a good shot at a great job. Plus, every eligible incoming high school graduate can take advantage of two free years of community college through the Harper Promise.

Students gaining hands-on experience through the Harper College Harper College’s Surgical Technology Program.
Students gaining hands-on experience through the Harper College Harper College’s Surgical Technology Program.

Viticulture Studies – South Seattle College (Seattle, WA)

For lovers of wine and those interested in using art and science to whet people’s appetites and palates, South Seattle College offers a cutting-edge program in viticulture. Students learn about the technology, production, and marketing of wine. Those who complete this program have the opportunity to pursue a variety of careers in the winemaking industry, which is expanding across the country and particularly in Washington, Oregon, and California. And for students from several Seattle neighborhoods, they can earn their degree for free through the 13th Year Promise program.

South Seattle College viticulture students testing wine samples in the lab.
South Seattle College viticulture students testing wine samples in the lab.

Cybersecurity – Community College of Baltimore County (Baltimore County, MD)

“This is College” explores the cybersecurity program offered at the Community College of Baltimore County. This program exposes students to the world of network security by using advanced computer software tools. Baltimore County recently proposed a Promise program that, if passed, will provide eligible students with free community college beginning this fall. Graduates of the program go on to careers that safeguard information for banks, technology companies, and the government.

A Community College of Baltimore County student working with cybersecurity computer software.
A Community College of Baltimore County student working with cybersecurity computer software.

Theatrical Makeup – San Diego Community College District (San Diego, CA)

For students seeking a creative career in the entertainment industry, San Diego City College offers them a program in Theater Makeup. Participants learn to transform their peers into visually stimulating characters in plays or movies. This interactive, hands-on program allows students to take their skills to the industry of theater, film, and/or television. And because of the San Diego Promise, student’s first year can be tuition-free.

San Diego City College student applying makeup and special effects to a peer.
San Diego City College student applying makeup and special effects to a peer.

Dental Hygiene – Dallas County Community College District (Dallas, TX)

Employment opportunities in healthcare will continue to rise in the next decade. The Dallas County Community College District is preparing its students to enter the workforce through its Healthcare programs. In its Dental Hygiene program, students learn to use dental technology, how to diagnose dental pathology, and how to prevent dental disease. Students in the program also study social psychology to learn how to interact with patients and with dental care teams. Next month, the Dallas County Community College District is launching the Dallas County Promise program which will cover tuition and fees for eligible students!

Students at the Dallas County Community College District practicing dental procedures on patients.
Students at the Dallas County Community College District practicing dental procedures on patients.

From a surgical room to a dental office to a winemaking facility to a backstage suite, there is a place for every at America’s community colleges.

I am passionate about my work on the College Promise Campaign because it’s working to build support for communities and states to provide free community college opportunities for hard-working students. Across the country, community colleges offer a broad range of programs for students to acquire the knowledge and skills that make them competitive for a wide range of jobs and careers. Every student deserves an equal opportunity to obtain a good quality education without having to worry about the rising costs of tuition. Eliminating the financial burden provides more than just an affordable college education. It opens doors to pursue rewarding careers where students can become the next surgeon, technician, or public servant.

For students who have never stepped foot on a college campus and who thought they could not afford it, these opportunities can be life-changing.

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