In the first half of the twentieth century, there was a distinct divide between people who attended four year colleges or universities and those who went into specific careers that required technical skills. The latter individuals usually attended what were called trade schools or entered apprenticeship programs to learn a trade. In the past several decades, however, a hybrid form of education has become increasingly popular that combines the practical application of a trade school with the broader education of a more traditional university. This newer, more modern form of education is the career college.
Career colleges offer a balance of core courses such as English, math and the sciences, but focus more thoroughly on the components needed to enter the workforce prepared to pursue a specific career path. Most career colleges are tightly focused on their students' desire to get an education that is extremely hands-on and technically oriented.
An increase in the need for technically trained, college educated employees is the largest driving force behind the increase in career colleges. Employers want students who are intelligent and able to think on their feet, so they have looked in the past for college educated students. However, the advent of computer technology, medical, and scientific technology meant that they then had to start from scratch in training their new employees. On the other hand, apprenticeship programs meant they were trying to train individuals right out of high school who often didn't have the science, math or other knowledge needed to succeed. Career college graduates offer employers a balance that's hard to find anywhere else.
For students, career colleges offer a variety of career options at a reasonable cost. Many career colleges offer associates degrees that can be earned in two years rather than four, putting them into the work force with two years less tuition they have to pay. They also find they are more motivated when they aren't wasting their study time on coursework that has no relevance to their eventual goals. While many college students thrive on elective courses, Career College students appreciate not having to spend time and money on what they believe are "pointless" classes to fulfill a requirement.
Many career colleges also offer four year programs for students who want to advance their careers by getting a Bachelor's degree in order to improve their resume or pursue a promotion. The flexibility of the program's offerings is another appealing aspect of career colleges. Many students begin working in their chosen field upon receiving their Associate's degree, and work toward their Bachelor's degree in the evenings or through an online or distance learning program.
Career colleges offer a wide range of programs to suit almost every interest. Most are technology oriented or focus on a particular field such as healthcare. Some of the most popular include: health & information sciences, paralegal studies, medical transcription, information technologies, medical assistant, radiology, business administration, administrative assistant, veterinary technology, medical coding & billing, pharmacy technology, healthcare reimbursement, criminal justice, management information systems, and human resource management
These are just a few of the many career college offerings. If you feel that a career college may be the right path for you, do some online research and visit several schools that offer courses that interest you. The best way to discover if a program is right for you is to meet the instructors and get a feel for the learning environment.
You should also make sure that the school is accredited by one of the national accrediting agencies recognized for overseeing the quality of technical and career schools in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education has a list of several appropriate agencies that they approve. Their website is a great place to start your research.