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CoastLine: Community Colleges On The Coast Focus on Vocational Options

Carteret Community College
Carteret and Brunswick Community Colleges offer different aquaculture programs.

Community colleges can be an alternative to traditional universities for students. They’re an option for people not interested in 4-year degrees – but who want to learn a trade and get a credential.  While there is a clear shift towards this vocational business model, community college officials with Cape Fear, Brunswick, and Carteret Community Colleges say college transfer students – people who go on to pursue 4-year degrees -- are still more than half of the student body. 

David Brooks recently wrote in a column for The New York Times, “This is still a country in which nearly 20 percent of prime-age American men are not working full time. This is still a country in which only 37 percent of adults expect children to be better off financially than they are. This is still a country in which millions of new jobs are through alternative work arrangements like contracting or consulting — meaning no steady salary, no predictable hours and no security.”

In North Carolina, community colleges are working with local employers to teach specialties.  One example:  Duke Energy wants qualified power line technicians – who also happen to have a commercial driver license.  There is a program for that at Cape Fear Community College.  

North Carolina legislators have allocated $22 million in recurring funds for community colleges because of concerns over “low salaries” and challenges these colleges face with “recruitment and retention”. 


Perry Harker, Vice President, Corporate and Community Education, Carteret Community College 

Jim Morton, President, Cape Fear Community College
Lois Smith, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Brunswick Community College

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR