Are certificate programs a good alternative to college?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,670
    Jerome Cole, Director of College Counseling at the Edmund Burke School in Washington D.C., discusses whether or not certification programs are a good alternative to college.

    Jerome A. Cole, MA

    Jerome A. Cole, M.A., is the Director of College Counseling for the Edmund Burke school in Washington, D.C. and the founder of Cole Educational Consulting Services (Cole ECS.) He has worked with students and families for over seven years to help them plan and strategize for college. As a college counselor at Burke, an independent college preparatory high school founded in 1968, Mr. Cole oversees a program that is designed to support students and families as they go through the selection and admission process for college. Mr. Cole advises over 100 students each year in a small academically challenging environment where every senior is expected to apply to and enroll in college. Prior to Burke, he was a school counselor at Bethesda-Chevy Chase high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. He has successfully counseled hundreds of students and helped them prepare for admission to a variety of schools such as: American University, Clark-Atlanta University, Davidson College, George Washington University, Harvard University, Pitzer College, Stanford University, Temple University, and the University of Maryland at College Park, to highlight just a few. He established the consulting firm Cole ECS to provide students and families with the necessary information and support to make the best choice for college. Cole ECS defines the best choice as the optimal learning and social environment to ensure a student’s holistic success, culminating in on-time or early graduation and desirable post-graduate options. Mr. Cole earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Catholic University, and then went on to obtain a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. He is certified as a school counselor and is a member of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC).

    Host: If I decide that college is not right for me, are there certification programs I can complete for another type of career?

    Jerome Cole: There are lots of programs out there. When we talk about post secondary education, for most of us, the first thing that comes to mind is a four year college and that is fine. For most of us out there, that is appropriate, but we talked about two year colleges earlier and then there are technical schools out there that offer certification programs in specific areas. Those are options for high school students that they should look at very, very closely, but again, let us go back to the original question that we asked, how do you get started? You get started by having that conversation with your young person, what is important? What do you like? What do you think you want to do? What is going to make you happy? What are the things that you do that are fun? What are the things that you do that are easy for you?

    Once you determine your needs, what is this that you want, then you can start to identify appropriate technical schools versus two year colleges versus four year colleges. There are lots of choices out there, sit down with mom and dad, have those discussions, sit down with extended family, folk who know you well, talk to your friends and then sit down and have that conversation with your college Counselor. It is then that you can make the choice on which one of these various options that you have out there is going to be best for you.