Founded in 1966, the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) is today the largest college in western Pennsylvania. The college started with a student population of only 1,500 (which was remarkable for a new college at the time) but today more than 60,000 students are enrolled. The current student population is served by the college’s four campuses – the North Campus at West Hills Center, the South Campus at Bethel Park Center, the Boyce Campus at Braddock Hills Center and the Allegheny Campus on the North Shore of Pittsburgh.
For students who might be unable to attend school at the college’s four campuses, there are six education centers spread out that makes it easy to serve would-be students in the whole of Allegheny and Washington counties. In addition, the college offers distance learning through three types of courses – internet courses, telecourses and web-enhanced courses.
Students here have a wide range of academic programs to choose from. The college offers certificates, diplomas and degrees in a variety of disciplines. Graduates of this college can therefore obtain employment or transfer to four-year colleges or universities. In total, the college runs close to 170 degree programs covering more than 100 study disciplines.
A myriad of business career programs are offered by the institution. The Accounting department, for example, offers Associate degrees and certificates in accounting. The programs are tailored to prepare the student for immediate employment or transfer to a four-year institution. Other business-related courses available include marketing management, E-Commerce, culinary arts, aviation technology, human resource management, cosmetology management, and tourism management among many others.
Students keen on developing careers in information technology can benefit from the college’s Computer and Information Technology (CIT) programs. The college offers an Associate degree in computer and information services which is highly recommended for students who wish to move on to a four year college or university. Obtaining this associate degree helps save the student money as it is much cheaper than what is charged for the first two years at four-year colleges. Moreover, certificate courses are offered in computer forensics, software development and information technology support among others.
Students who desire careers in humanities and social sciences will most likely find a course of their choice as the college has programs in diverse areas including psychology, global studies, ethnic and diversity studies, women’s studies and global studies. The college’s science programs cover mathematics, biology, laboratory technology, chemistry and nanotechnology among others. Engineering students can obtain a certificate or associate degree as well. Some of the programs available include basic and digital electronics, civil engineering, architectural drafting and design, integrated systems engineering and manufacturing technology.
Most Popular Fields of Study
The school runs an open admissions program that does not require would-be students to sit for college entrance examinations. To qualify for admission into the college, a student is required to have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate. The college admits students who are at least 18 years old. GED certificates make it easy for older students to benefit from college education as they test the academic skills of older students against those expected from a high school graduate.
Students wishing to join can complete an application for admission at the campus of their choice or do it online. The application should be accompanied by the student’s high school transcripts or GED scores and should be submitted one month before the beginning of the semester.
When a student’s application for admission is received, the college contacts the student to arrange for placement tests. Placement tests are conducted to test the ability of the student to pursue their chosen courses. The tests cover mathematics, reading and writing. However, some applicants are exempt from taking some or all of the placement tests: applicants who benefit from exemption include those who already have a college degree, those who have obtained grade “C” and above in their college-level English and mathematics and those with ACT or SAT scores above 50%.
International students wishing to pursue studies are required to provide their high school transcripts and evidence of graduation. In addition, they must provide an official copy of their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). To be considered for admission, the student must have obtained a minimum score of 347 for the written test or a score 19 for the internet-based test.
The financial burden of attending college can be reduced substantially by acquisition of financial aid, and students attending here have many sources of such aid. Aid is available in the form of grants (money which the student is not required to repay), scholarships, loans and work-study programs.
Various state and federal agencies offer grants to students with demonstrated financial needs. One such grant is the Pell Grant which is available for undergraduate students who have applied via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition to verifiable financial need, an applicant has to achieve a grade level progression of 24 credits to qualify for the Pell grant. Recipients whose financial needs are exceptional could also apply for the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) which could provide them with further funding up to $600.
Most grants are tied to academic performance and the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), for example, is awarded to students with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students who are residents of Pennsylvania could also apply for the PHEAA State Grant.
There are over 10 scholarships that a student here could apply for. The GAP Scholarship is available for needy students who maintain 12 credits and whose grade point average is 2.5 or higher each semester. A qualifying student could be awarded up to $500 per semester. Other scholarships include the University of Pittsburgh, CGS Learning Solutions Scholarships ($1,000), the Datatel Scholars Foundation’s Scholarships, and the Carlow University Community College Transfer Scholarship ($4,000).
Student loans are provided through the Department of Education and allow students to pay for college through low-interest loans. Loans could be either subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized William D. Ford Direct Federal Stafford loans are available for students with financial need and interest on the loan is paid by the federal government until the student completes studies and finds employment. Students applying for unsubsidized loans do not have to demonstrate financial need and interest on the loan is payable immediately after the first disbursement.
Student Financial Aid Details
Extra-curricular activities are appreciated as one way to make a student’s college experience complete. Student activities at the college are governed by the Office of Student Life which has organized various clubs and organizations that a student could join at each of the four campuses. Some of the clubs include the Art Association Club which hosts art shows exhibiting the art made by students and faculty in addition to organizing fundraisers, art galleries and workshops.
Students who are members of the Christian faith could join the Agape Christian Ministry which organizes various social events. Other clubs include the Biotech Club which addresses the career needs of Biotech students, the Business Club which puts the students in touch with the local business community and the Dance Club whose membership is open to all members of the college. The dance club seeks to promote the use of dance as a medium of expression.
Gay and straight students get to exchange views through the Gay-Straight Alliance, a forum that was established to bridge the gap between gay and heterosexual students.
Some of the organizations and honor societies represented include Phi Theta Kappa whose chapter here is Alpha Mu Theta.
Working for and in conjunction with all the student clubs and organizations is the Student Government. This representative of the student body ensures that student rights such as freedom of expression are respected. Moreover, the student government ensures that student activities are in touch with the aspirations of the civic communities near the campuses. Representatives are elected at the start of each fall term. Student meetings are held biweekly and all students are welcome to attend.
Students who have special interests that might not be adequately served by the clubs and organizations already established are encouraged start new organizations by filling-in an Application for Recognition.
Student Enrollment Demographics
All of the college’s campuses have facilities for various sports and some of the athletic programs offered include the following:
- Men’s Intercollegiate Baseball
- Men’s Intercollegiate and Women’s Intercollegiate Basketball
- Men’s Intercollegiate and Women’s Intercollegiate Golf
- Women’s Intercollegiate Softball
- Women’s Intercollegiate Volleyball
The physical education building is open to all students with an ID card who wish to drop in and work-out. Also, the school hosts a bunch of recreational activities for all students such as ski trips, weight training, volleyball, and biking.
Justine Ventimiglia graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Currently residing in a 1950’s modest ranch in Metro Detroit, she enjoys researching and writing about Mid Century Modern furniture and decor as she works on restoring her home and documenting the process.