With the push for students to attend higher education schools, many graduating and returning students choose to attend community colleges, vocational or trade schools instead of traditional universities.
And for good reason.
Many students choose to attend community colleges, such as Colorado Northwestern Community CollegeCraig (CNCCCraig), to obtain core requirements and transfer to other institutions or they complete training in a specialized field.
According to Mary Morris, coordinator of community education and public information, it is a win-win situation.
For many, like Scott Bouldin, a 1993 graduate of Moffat County High School, obtaining a bachelor's degree and working temporary positions until finding the right niche is not an option.
Bouldin had no definite plans after high school. He decided to stay in his hometown and attend CNCCCraig after realizing an interest in the computer field. After graduating from CNCC in 1996 with a computer science degree, his hopes became reality.
"It took me a year to figure out what I wanted to do," Bouldin said. "Colorado Northwestern Community College was a first stepping stone."
According to Bouldin, his personal views on industrial trends turned him away from the traditional college ladder to pursue focused industry training. Another part of his decision stemmed from the financial obligations. Bouldin wondered why he should spend an additional $32,000 for two years of school when he could make more money his first year and end up with two more years of on-the job training.
Combining his education from CNCC and Microsoft Corporation, he became a Microsoft certified systems engineer and certified microsoft trainer, a position he believes fulfills his initial financial and professional goals.
According to the Occupational Outlook Quarterly, statistics show programs at institutions such as CNCC prepare students to become employed in more than 40 percent of high-paying jobs, which ordinarily are offered to people with four-year degrees.
The Occupational Outlook Quarterly based a chart on jobs paying $821 or more weekly and the percentage of these jobs held by students from institutions such as CNCC. Some of these jobs include aircraft engine mechanics, computer programmers and systems analysts and scientists, police officers and detectives, registered nurses and sales representatives.
"We are more in a position to be state of the art," Morris said. "We will continue to strive to be known as a college that produces quality students."