Challenge of Gathering Information from Prospective Community Colleges

Challenge of Gathering Information from Prospective Community Colleges

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When I was ready to re-enter the workforce, I found that I was lacking in many skills needed for finding a position in an office. Coming to the realization that I would need to find a place for myself in the workforce was stressful enough, not to mention that I was under skilled by today's standards for an office worker. Upon searching my options, going back to school seemed like the most logical step to take, but this was a confusing time to make some very important decisions. Should I attend a public or private college? Both would be beneficial to my future prospects. Gathering information was an eye opener in many ways.
Portland Community College (PCC) is a well-known college, with a long-standing history. It has been around since 1961, starting as an adult education program of Portland Public Schools.(6) Because the college included students from many areas outside the Portland School district, the school evolved to a community college and is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges.(7) Like PCC, Heald is well known and has an even longer history starting in 1863.(8) Heald fulfills the need for business help. Penmanship and bookkeeping were some of the first classes taught at Heald. Heald is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges.(4) PCC and Heald are accredited and credits earned at both could be transferred to other schools for higher learning if one should take on the task of earning a bachelors or masters degree.
PCC has all walks of life for their student base. All ages from recently graduated high school students to those in their grandparent years. Included in all these years, are people from every ethnic group. Whites, Blacks, Asian, Europeans and all those in between are included. Same as PCC, Heald is open to everyone that wants to further his or her education. Prospective students are accepted by both institution and not discriminated by either.(1,5)
PCC has a program for earning an Associates Degree that could be used for entering the office using medical administration skills. A student would need to complete classes earning 94 credits(3) required for this degree. Not included in this total are other classes that would be the student's responsibility to find online, at a community college or any other accredited college upon being accepted into the Health Information Management Program3.

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The additional classes being Medical Terminology, Anatomy, Physiology, Speech Communication, Math, Writing, General Education, and Computers.(3) Unlike PCC, Heald has students completing courses earning 98 credits.(4) All course work is laid out and completed in one overall package. No need to try and figure in or find additional classes. Terminology, Math, Writing, Anatomy, Physiology and Computers are included in the 98 credits.(4) No need to add general classes. Both schools are presenting an Associates Degree, but one is asking a students to take approximately 21-25 additional credits to enter it's program.
Class size can be a plus or minus for a student. PCC has a limit of 30 students for their program3. This is not too bad, but one needs to consider the fact that PCC starts this program only in September. Frequently there is a waiting list for this program and if it has any kind of dropout figure, usually positions vacated are filled with those waiting to get in. Even though, Heald has a limit of 50 students for classes in their program, which may sound like a lot of students, there class sizes are held down to approximately 15-20.(5) Heald starts the rotation anytime in the four quarters available during the year. This leads to more people entering with a greater frequency and thus spreads out enrolling students, not waiting for them to enter a program only at one time for the entire year.
An important discussion could be, how long will this take. PCC shows that the program could take only 18 months. What isn't figured in that 18 months are the extra classes required. Sure, a student could finish in 18 month,(5) but this may be a burden for the student to take extra classes on top of the mapped out courses in the degree program. In the same way, Heald states that a degree can be earned in 18 months, they truly succeed with that number. No questions are asked about how long this could take, 18 months can mean just that.
At one school, information was not an easy task to get. After visiting the campus and making several phone calls, I finally had some basic answers. It was unclear the exact cost for PCC. There were per credit fees, technology fees, student activity fee, lab fees, distance learning class fees, name tag fee, dues for a professional association, graduation petition fee and finally textbook costs.(3) On the other hand, I was able to make one phone call to Heald and was absolutely sure the entire costs for the program. The program is has just one figure with no variables thrown in.
If prospective students were to make a decision, what would be the least complicated route to take? The one that takes them all over the map or the most direct path.
While PCC has some good qualities, it can be said that it lacks something when addressing new students and sometimes less isn't always best. On the other hand, Heald does seem to have a streamlined approach. There were no uncertainties at all that had been found. Similar facts that they both hold accreditation status, have classes, fees, teach students life applicable skills for the workforce, this just doesn't make up for the vast differences between these two colleges as I’ve shown.
(1)Opportunities Guide, College That Fits You Life Pamphlet, PCC, 9/04
(2)Fall 2005 Class Catalog, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, PCC
(3)Health Information Management Application Packet, PCC, 9/04
(4)Heald Course Curriculum Pamphlet, Heald College, Oct 2004
(5)Heald Policies and Procedures, Heald College, Jan 2005
(6)College History. PCC, 13Jun05.
(7)Accreditation, PCC, 10Jun05,
(8)Mission and History, Heald College, 10Jun05
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