Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes (left) helps distribute laptops this summer to students who were economically affected by the pandemic. More laptops are being distributed this fall to students in the region.
Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes (left) helps distribute laptops this summer to students who were economically affected by the pandemic. More laptops are being distributed this fall to students in the region. Photo via GCCCD

With many people seeking recession-proof professions, community colleges in San Diego and Imperial County are expanding their career education programs as they prepare for the fall semester starting August 17.

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca, Imperial Valley and San Diego community college districts begin the 2020-21 academic year that day. MiraCosta College and Palomar College begin classes August 24.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting virtually everyone, and community colleges offer the best option for those looking to reassess their education plans,” said Lynn Neault, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and president of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association.

At $46 per unit, state community colleges offer the most affordable higher education option in the nation, the schools said.

First-time, full-time community college students can have their tuition waived for up to two years through local and statewide Promise programs.

Plans for the coming semester:

Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

Cuyamaca College

Most classes are being offered online at Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges, except for a few science labs and classes training essential workers. Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have initiated a financial aid chatbot, which can answer basic financial aid questions at all hours in English or Spanish.

A new offering at Cuyamaca College is the Gig Economy, which focuses on starting and succeeding with contract work, freelance assignments, short-term jobs, and entrepreneurship in fields ranging from music to graphic design. In addition, the college’s Ford Asset Program is launching online in fall, with hands-on skills work at a local dealership.

Cuyamaca College is partnering with National University in offering a seamless pathway for students completing their associate degree in WaterWorks Management to transfer into National University’s Public Administration baccalaureate program. 

Grossmont College

Among the new offerings at the Grossmont College Computer Science Information Systems Department are programs in the growing fields of data science and cybersecurity providing low-cost opportunities to earn a certificate in data science or a certificate or degree in cybersecurity. In addition, Grossmont College is adapting its Student Services to an online environment by launching hourlong e-counseling appointments.

Imperial Valley College

Although most of Imperial Valley’s fall classes will be taught online, an exception was approved for a limited number of career education classes where face-to-face instruction is necessary for students to acquire skills through hands-on practice. In-person instruction is planned from August 17 to September 30 for Welding, Construction, Electrical, Electronics, and Automotive Technology.

Programs in Public Safety, Nursing, and Allied Health also will incorporate in-person components either through on-campus labs or at clinical sites.  

MiraCosta College

MiraCosta College this fall will become the only community college in California to offer an associate degree for transfer and a certificate of achievement in social work and human services that is completely online. The program also will address regional workforce needs.

According to the state Employment Development Department, the number of openings for social workers in San Diego County is expected to grow by 400 annually in the coming years, with hourly wages in the $25–$33 range.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, child, family, and school social workers in the region are earning an average of more than $57,000 annually and social workers in the healthcare field are earning nearly $70,000 per year on average. Nationally, overall employment of social workers is expected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Palomar College

Palomar College has started several new online programs this fall, including those in cybersecurity, data analytics, public relations, child development, alcohol and other drug studies, in addition to non-credit medical profession preparation.

In-person classes at Palomar College are restricted to the police and fire academies and the Emergency Medical Education program. In addition, to provide continuity for nursing students, Biology 212 will be offered onsite, as will the labs that are required for the Dental Assisting Program.

College leaders recently announced the approval of a Military Leadership (MIL) Apprenticeship program that will launch in the fall. The program will translate the coursework of Marines in Sergeant School into 12 units of Palomar credit, followed by 2,000 on-the-job training hours once students return to their Military Occupation Specialty.

Another six units of credit will be awarded for the on-the-job training hours, resulting in a Certificate of Achievement in Military Leadership from Palomar College. If participants choose to fulfill the general education requirements, they will also be eligible for an Associate of Science in Military Leadership.

San Diego Community College District

San Diego City College

City College is unveiling several new features this fall, including a Black Excellence resource page on its website, several eight-week courses in its Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering degree and certificate programs, and the return of an Acting for Film and Television course that is being augmented by visits from professionals in the television and motion picture industry.

San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College is equipping students taking online courses with the tools they will need to succeed. Take-home microscopes and dissection kits are available for students in science courses, sewing machines are available for fashion classes, culinary courses will supply pots and pans, art classes will be offering pottery wheels and clay, and geology students can get rock and mineral reference sets.

New programs include Mesa’s Advancing Cities Project Preferred Provider Status for several CTE and STEM programs, like Engineering (access to internships for students), and a new Retail Management Program Certificate, an on-line Program designed to assist students already working in the industry with increasing their skills sets and marketing ability to allow them to promote into managerial positions more quickly.

Additionally, Mesa launched the Mesa/SDSU Microsite Program, another online program in which students directly transfer to SDSU in Business Management, but can still access student support and programs at Mesa College.

San Diego Miramar College

Miramar has a new President in P. Wesley Lundburg, who for the past five years has been serving as Executive Dean and CEO at the Ammerman Campus that is part of Suffolk Community College on Long Island. Miramar College, with an enrollment exceeding 14,000 students, is among the fastest-growing campuses in the California Community Colleges system and offers more than 150 degrees and certificates, is a transfer hub to the University of California and California State University and is a center for workforce training in the region.

San Diego Continuing Education

Continuing Ed, which resumes classes September 8, is launching a new, fully online job-training program providing adult learners with fast, free, and flexible schedules that take just five to 10 months to complete. The ICOM Academy (Interactive Competency-based Online Microcredentialing Academy) debuts with 10 career education options in the areas of Small Business Entrepreneurship, Information Technology, and Skilled Trades.

Southwestern College

With Southwestern College remaining primarily in remote operations and instruction when classes begin August 24, Student Services personnel have been increasing online support opportunities. Nearly 30 departments across the college, from admissions to veterans services, have virtual chatrooms where students can ask questions and get one-on-one assistance.

Students can also receive private, virtual consultations with college nurses and personal wellness psychologists for physical and emotional issues. In-person classes will resume for students in the fire science, EMT, paramedic, police academy, nursing, medical lab tech, medical office professions and dental hygiene programs.

Construction on a new Public Safety Training Complex at the Otay Mesa campus also continues to move along, with an opening date scheduled for fall 2021.

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