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Community colleges typically offer classes in a wide variety of fields, including math, science, and humanities, as well as courses leading to basic trade certifications. Most community colleges offer both degree and certification programs. Classes need not always be a part of a degree track, however; in many places, community college classes are also geared towards community enrichment. Language classes, dance and art classes, and other skills-based courses are frequently offered on a one-by-one basis to adult learners in the local area.
The variety of community college classes offered on a given campus is usually dictated at least in part by demand. Community colleges typically offer classes in three categories: degree program classes, trade classes, and enrichment classes. The completion requirements, teaching quality, and meeting schedule usually depends on the track.
Community colleges are institutes of higher education, but they typically offer only two-year degrees. For this reason, a community college is often referred to as a two-year college. Classes are designed to lead to a two-year degree, like an associate's degree, or a trade industry degree or certification.
Associate's degrees are often foundational: that is, students earn them as a stepping-stone to four-year college degrees. Most universities will transfer credits earned in pursuance of an associate's degree. As such, community college classes offered in the associate's degree track are usually rigorous, and must adhere to certain testing, grading, and minimum reading requirements.
Community college classes designed to lead to trade certification are usually very different. Classes in these tracks train students to perform some useful skill — plumbing, for instance, or car maintenance and repair. Many of these courses take place in workshops, and require a lot of hands-on practice. Colleges sometimes have to be licensed by their local jurisdiction before they can provide trade certification courses.
A third category of community college classes does not lead to any degree or professional certification, but rather is intended merely to offer basic education to interested students. Community colleges in many areas offer a host of elementary learning opportunities to community members. Most of these kinds of classes relate to useful skills. Accounting classes, basic financial planning classes, and foreign language classes are popular in most places. Colleges may also offer recreational classes like dance lessons, art classes, and ceramics instruction.
In these instances, a community college is acting more as a general educational institution than a two-year college. Most community enrichment-based courses do not fulfill any degree requirements, and are not usually eligible for transfer to larger four-year colleges or universities. They are frequently also offered in evenings or on weekends, in order to cater to students who have jobs or are otherwise occupied during the normal school day.
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