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This CMC Corner Column by CMC associate VP of enrollment management Shane Larson was first printed in the Glenwood Post Independent.

Photo of CMC Associate VP of Enrollment Services Shane LarsonAcross the country, there are hundreds of thousands of people who have taken some college classes but do not hold a degree. In Colorado, this is about 22 percent of the adult population, according to the Colorado Workforce Development Council, and there’s a big push to get these former students to return to their local community colleges to turn their tassels.

Maybe you’re one of these students who is ever so close to having your degree, or maybe you know someone who is. And completing those degrees might be within easier reach than you think.

Maybe you’re one of these students who is ever so close to having your degree, or maybe you know someone who is. And completing those degrees might be within easier reach than you think.

There are many reasons people start and stop their education — a job opportunity, a family change, the birth of a child or even the itch to travel. One individual might have college credit from a variety of different schools; another person may never have settled on a major, taking classes from a number of different programs. In their minds, they mistakenly think these are a bunch of random classes that don’t add up to one degree, or that the classes they’ve taken were so long ago that they are “expired.”

The reality is, many people who didn’t complete their degree are within only a few classes of earning it. In some cases, a student started taking classes at a two-year college and transferred to a four-year college to work on a bachelor’s degree, but didn’t earn a degree from either college. Yet, there may be enough credits now to transfer back to the two-year college — and the student could actually meet the requirements for earning an associate degree. Very few credits actually expire; biology is biology, whether you took it last year or 10 years ago.

You’ve heard it all along — the advice to go to college. It makes you more employable. It increases your earning potential. But there are not enough college graduates to meet the demand. The Colorado Department of Higher Education projects that 74 percent of jobs in Colorado will require some postsecondary education or training by the year 2020, yet only 24 out of every 100 Colorado ninth-graders will go on to earn a college degree.

I sometimes wonder why this is the case. I think part of it is that some young students feel that the only degree is a four-year degree; it’s what they hear most about. They don’t recognize the options and opportunities a two-year degree or a certificate can give them. A four-year degree is not the only path, and it can seem to some simply unattainable because of time and cost factors.

Many of the forecasted jobs require a certificate or two-year associate degree — those in the technical and health care fields, for example. Some associate degree and certificate holders are actually outpacing the earning of some bachelor’s degree graduates.

It’s well worth checking into whether you could turn your credits into a degree or what it would take to achieve it. At Colorado Mountain College, we encourage you to sit down with us and have your transcripts evaluated so that you know exactly where you stand. If you’re a high school student who isn’t familiar with the options a certificate or two-year degree can provide, visit with us to talk about the wide variety of careers you can get with all types of degrees. We’re here to help.

Shane Larson is the associate vice president of enrollment management at Colorado Mountain College.