Young Asians are looking for the kinds of jobs that offer professional growth potential. What connects them with such jobs is the education they receive - it's vital for accessing choice employment. Look at our Community College Programs.
More than half of the world's young people - some 850 million between the ages of 10 and 24 - live in Asia and the Pacific. 1 This 'youth bulge,' coupled with a fast-growing export-based economy, is changing the social landscape in the region. Young populations are not only pressing to expand education and health programs but also to secure jobs that provide upward mobility.
For young people everywhere, "a good job is not just a source of income, but also provides economic standing, self-esteem, social status and social capital".2 Young Asians are looking for the kinds of jobs that offer professional growth potential. And education is vital for accessing choice employment. Today's labor market seeks young people with practical experience, appropriate skills, and knowledge of foreign languages.
Keenly aware of the situation, many Asian institutions of higher education are implementing innovative educational policy reforms to meet the needs of growing student populations and also the labor market's demands. The unique concept of community colleges is an apt model for societies in transition: It efficiently imparts knowledge; upgrades skills in small, student-centered, classroom environments; is suitable for students of diverse achievement levels; and is low-cost. The notion is taking root in many parts of the world.
AACC has worked diligently to introduce and clarify the community college concept in Asia. Initially, 'translating' the 2 + 2 notion was challenging: Asian students associated a US two-year college with their local, less prestigious two-year 'vocational' training school. Over the years, AACC has focused on making the US community college concept clear to audiences of high-school students as well as their parents, teachers, and counselors.
As the community college concept becomes better understood in the region, young people realize that a US college degree is no longer accessible only to their countries' elites. The "2 + 2" model offers - thousands of middle-class students in Asia and elsewhere - the possibility to secure a US college degree from well-known schools at accessible prices. However, the cost is not the only thing that attracts foreign students to community colleges. Two-year colleges offer a safety net - especially important to shy, diffident newcomers - as they adjust to a new culture and a new academic environment. Also, smaller classes allow instructors to provide greater attention to students, and this helps young people assimilate the English language and other subject matters faster. Finally, a smaller college provides more networking opportunities and a good quality of life. In two years, students earn a community college associate degree and, thanks to effective articulation, can transfer to a university to earn, in two additional years, a sought-after bachelor's degree.
Today, Korea, Hong Kong, and Vietnam are among the top 20 leading countries which send high-school students to US two-year colleges. This improved understanding of the community college concept and its benefits, along with better US visa-approval rates, are persuading Asian students that this is an excellent way to secure a quality two- or four-year education. AACC also works with member colleges and understand s that each institution's international initiatives may be at a different level of development. AACC provides guidance, pre-travel orientation, and assists colleges in framing their presentations overseas in a way that their message can be understood by audiences unfamiliar with the US community college concept and culture.
In this environment, it is no surprise that AACC's Asia experience has been very good. For many years, AACC has been partnering with peer institutions at home and abroad, and, working as a team, AACC has been reaching out to high school students overseas, their parents, and high-school teachers. People are listening.
Encouraged by this overwhelming support, we at AACC are returning to Asia in October 2006. AACC will not only conduct student-recruitment fairs in major capitals, but will also explore new, emerging markets and secondary cities. At the same time, AACC has teamed up with the International Institute for Education in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and with the Fulbright Commission in Seoul. AACC and its local partners are an extraordinary, multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural group of people working together to promote a better understanding of the benefits offered by US community colleges.
AACC's International Program is currently recruiting college representatives to be part of this year's delegation to Asia. AACC is offering attractive discounts for those registering early. AACC is promoting the significance of global education on US campuses, and we are convinced that this initiative will be as successful at home as it has been overseas. The time to build bridges is here.
1 UNFPA, Overview: Asia and the Pacific, www.unfpa.org/profile/asia_overview.htm
2 International Labour Organization-ILO: Youth Employment in Vietnam: Characteristics, determinants and policy responses, Dang Nguyen Anh, Le Bach Duong, Nguyen Hai Van.
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