High school graduation is around the corner, and students are getting ready for the next phase of life.  Some students know exactly where they will start their higher education in the fall, while others are still evaluating college acceptances and financial aid and scholarship awards.  Some students are ready to take time off from books while they pursue other options.  Students who are still investigating possibilities should know that it is not too late to gain admissions in several Colorado schools offering four year degrees. For those who are unsure of what they want to study, community colleges are a good way to explore interests, or to complete general education, as they are relatively less expensive, accessible, and offer matriculation or transfer credits to four year schools.

Students wishing to enter the workforce faster, but who seek specialized skills to be more marketable, can consider several local educational choices including certificates, diplomas, or two year associate degrees.

Front Range Community College has four campuses:  Fort Collins, Longmont, Westminster, and Brighton and offers numerous certificate and associate degree programs.  Popular programs include automotive and welding technology, forestry, wildlife, and natural resources (with a transfer path to Colorado State University), and clean energy technology, a new program started in 2010.  Front Range’s nursing programs continue to be in high demand (with wait lists).  Front Range also provides engineering programs for transfer to four year universities.

The Institute of Business and Medical Careers (IBMC) is a private career college that offers accelerated programs (completion in 19 months or less), small classes, and choices of morning, afternoon, or evening class shifts.  IBMC has four campuses:  Fort Collins, Cheyenne, Longmont, and Greeley and offers a variety of programs including business administration and accounting, a pharmacy technician program, and a paralegal program.

To meet the demand for skilled labor from local employers, Aims Community College recently opened a new high- tech campus in Fort Lupton, in addition to its Greeley and Loveland sites.  This fall, the Fort Lupton campus will house applied and environmental technologies, which include construction management, CAD/GIS engineering technologies, industrial technology, and oil and gas technology programs.   Aims also offers radiologic or surgical technology programs.

These are just a few of the many programs offered by these local two-year (or less) institutions; visit their respective websites to see complete lists of programs, certificates, degrees, and transfer options.  If interested in programs, it is best to make a personal visit to the campus and meet with an admissions representative to learn more and to determine if the school is the right fit.  

All students planning to pursue higher education, should consider total costs of attendance,  graduation rates (or average amount of time to complete the program/ degree), class sizes,  employment outlooks and likely starting  salaries, along with the availability of resources such as career services  at the institution.  Having this knowledge will help students make better choices for their futures.

Ferah Aziz is a college coach with launchphase2. Visit www. launchphase2.com or call 720-340-8111 to learn more about coaching for college bound students, and success coaching for college students. P. Carol Jones is the author of “Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able.” Visit www.towardcollegesuccess.com to read excerpts and to follow her blog.