By Miguel Escalante
Current and former students should look into obtaining a certificate of achievement to further their skills and chances of becoming hired.
A certificate of achievement is a program that prepares students with certain skills and experience in a particular career in a small amount of time.
Most students think if they obtain their associate’s or bachelor’s degree it stops there, it does not. ELAC, as well as other community colleges, offer a vast array of certificate programs tailored to students budgets, schedules and interests.
Marjori Guerra, 24, a student at Pasadena City College in the child development certificate program, said she thought the idea of a certificate would not only enhance her skills but she would obtain more knowledge.
Guerra graduated from Cal State LA in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Health but felt a year later that she wanted to learn more about child development. In Fall of 2019, she signed up for the child development certificate of achievement.
She said “…getting a certificate at a community college is not only cheaper but the availability of classes is better,” which is a major reason she chose to do so. Guerra hopes to obtain her certificate in child development by next spring and has plans to apply for graduate school in the near future.
In 2012, Inside Higher Ed published an article called, Not Just Degrees, which spoke about certificate programs and collected data of working Americans.
The research stated that one in ten workers have a certificate of achievement as their highest education and 20 percent are more likely to be employed versus those with just a high school diploma.
Those numbers have since increased but this is a prime example of how even for the average worker, parent, or working professional obatining a certificate actually increased their chances of getting jobs or other opportunities like a fellowship, scholarship, or even help graduate school applications.
Christopher Olivares, 35, is attending ELAC for his associate’s degree after taking a break from school to deal with some life changes.
He decided to go back to finish what he had started and by having the support of friends and family, he was able to transition back.
Olivares said he originally chose Long Beach City College but with further research ELAC offered more of the classes he needed.
Some advice he gives to new students is “to never take time off from school like I did. To keep aiming for the goal of your accomplishments.” Christopher also agrees that certificate programs are very helpful for those older students that cannot dedicate the time it takes to obtain a full degree or younger students who want to add new skills to their resume.
Students like Guerra and Oliveres are not the usual community college-aged students nor is their situations.
However, now being community college students has made them feel strongly about community colleges’ role in assisting students’ learning new skills.
For some it may take longer to finish at a community college or even at the university level. Some also may finish in a timely manner but still yearn for more and that is where certificate programs comes in.
Certificate programs should be taken advantage by everyone no matter age or degrees obtained.