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Field Guide 2018

2017-2018 Field Guide coverBetter Jobs, Brighter Futures, a Stronger Washington

The 2018 Field Guide highlights just a few of the noteworthy education programs, partnerships and innovation at Washington's 34 community and technical colleges. Take a look to learn more. Better yet, stop by a college and see for yourself the life-changing work happening at each campus every day.

Promoting student achievement and success

With tuition at under $4,000 for a full-time student for an academic year, community and technical colleges are a smart choice for many students. In the 2016-17 school year, colleges awarded 29,607 associate degrees. These degrees lead directly to jobs or satisfy the first two years of a bachelor's program at a fraction of the cost.

Community and technical colleges are student-focused, developing focused support services like Guided Pathways, a researched-based approach for students to get through college in a purposeful way, and Washington Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA), which helps students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. The college system also works to align high school and college curriculum, removing barriers to students to start their college education.

Increasing access to post-secondary education

Community and technical colleges help drive Washington state's economy. A 2016 economic impact study showed the colleges, and their current and former students add $20.5 billion to the state's economy. This translates to 321,549 jobs and about 5.1 percent of the gross state product.

Of all students enrolled in the state's public colleges and universities, about 40 percent started their education at a community or technical college. The college system works with colleges and universities to make that transition even easier by creating Direct Transfer Agreement degrees and a general education course list for students who wish to transfer after one year.

Colleges work directly with employers through the Customized Training Program and the Job Skills Program, providing customized, affordable training programs for businesses across the state. Professional-technical programs train students for in-demand jobs in communities and growth industries around the state. Colleges engage employers, business associations and labor unions to develop training programs for careers.

Building on the system's strength and success

With innovative programs like I-BEST and I-DEA, adult students maximize their time in classes, learning foundational skills like reading, writing, math, technology and English, so they learn the skills for the workplace The college system's Open Course Library saves students thousands as they can access free or low-cost textbooks and class materials through the library and other openly-licensed classroom resources. Colleges also give incarcerated individuals a second chance by offering educational programs in prisons. The result gives those students a fresh chance to thrive upon release, gives communities a safeguard on crime, and giving taxpayers up to $18.36 return on every dollar invested in these programs.

By the Numbers

58 percent

58 percent of students â€” including Running Start students â€” enrolled in Washington state's public higher education system are enrolled in community and technical colleges.

$20.5 billion

The amount community and technical colleges, their current students, and former students add annually to Washington state's economy.

40 percent

Public 4-year college and university graduates in Washington state start at a community or technical college.


The number of associate degrees awarded by Washington state's community and technical colleges in the 2016-2017 school year.


Laura McDowell
Communications Director


Page Manager:
Last Modified: 1/8/20 2:58 PM

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