Picking The Degree That’s Right for You

At ACC, our goal is to help you to move mountains. Everyone’s mountain is as unique as the peaks of the Rockies, and our degree and certificate programs are designed to reflect that. But with so many options to choose from, picking the one that lets you move your mountain can be a daunting task. To help you decide which path is right for you, here’s a look at the degrees that we offer here at ACC.

Associate of Arts (AA)

An Associate of Arts degree is a first step towards earning your Bachelor of Arts degree. This transfer degree will help you satisfy the core requirements needed for your intended 4-year major, as well as allow you to pick elective courses that can diversify your knowledge and skill sets. If you already know what liberal arts program you want to major in, your course work will allow you to get started on that path. If you are unsure which subject you want to pursue, or wish to try out a wide range of subjects, our AA General degree will give you the chance to explore your interests while earning you credit for when you transfer.

Areas of focus: Arts, Business, Communication, Criminal Justice, Education, Languages, Social Sciences

Associate of Science (AS)

The Associate of Science degree is your portal into the sciences. Like the AA, the AS will help you satisfy your core degree requirements when you transfer, with a stronger emphasis on STEM-related coursework that will prepare you for laboratory work and research. Whether you have decided on your intended major or not, there is an AS degree that will satisfy your curiosity and interests.

Areas of focus: Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Psychology

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

With an Associate of Applied Science degree, you can get started in the field that you pick as soon as you graduate. These specialized professional degree programs are designed to teach you the skills that you need for a wide range of fields that include business, computers, emergency services, healthcare, management, media, and technology. If your goal is to get out into the world and make a difference in your community, the AAS will give you the training that you need to help you accomplish that goal.

Associate of General Studies (AGS)

If the Associate of Applied Science is the degree for the specialist, then the Associate of General Studies is the degree for the generalist: it allows you to build up the technical skills that you want without constraining you to a particular field. With the widest range of elective coursework available, the AGS will allow you to combine course work from multiple Associate programs into a new program that you envision. Whether you want to combine courses from multiple specialties in the same field, or combine courses from multiple fields to build a foundation for a specialty of your creation, your imagination is the only limit to what you can do with this degree option.

Certificates

Certificates prove that you’ve got the proficiency to do a job and do it well. With a certificate from ACC, you can bolster up your resume to new heights, improve your prospects on the job, and prove to your employer that you have the particular set of skills that they’re looking for. Combined with your degree, you won’t just move your mountain: you’ll smash right through it.

ACC now offers two Bachelor’s degree programs for Emergency Service Administration and Nursing.

Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS): Emergency Service Administration

If you’re looking to advance your career in emergency services, our newest degree option will prepare you for leadership roles in both the public and private sector. The training that this degree provides will teach you how to formulate solutions to ethical and legal issues, collect and analyze data for decision-making, and employ the appropriate course of action for all phases of the cycle of emergencies. This degree is an option for students who have already earned their AAS in Criminal Justice, Emergency Management & Planning, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Science Technology, Homeland Security/Emergency Management, Law Enforcement, Paramedicine, Public Safety, Wildland Safety, or a closely related degree, from a regionally accredited institution. You will also be able to earn college credit for industry certifications through the National Fire Protection Association, Peace Officer Standards and Training board, and the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion Program (RN-BSN)

If you’re interested in furthering your nursing career, our BSN program is available to RNs with an associate degree or diploma, and students currently in an Associate-level nursing program. You’ll be able to build on your nursing skills and increase your perspective of current clinical practice while enhancing your leadership abilities, and because the program is online, you can fit your education around your own schedule. Dual enrollment is available for students applying to or already enrolled in ACC’s Nursing AAS program, and there are transfer options for Colorado Universities with a BSN track of their own. This program is approved by the State Board of Colorado Community College Occupational and Education Programs, so you know that you’ll be receiving a quality education that will let you move mountains in the nursing field.

Learn more about ACC’s degrees and programs.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

Why You Should Take English and Math Classes First

Before your first semester began at ACC, one of the tasks that you accomplished was to take placement tests for English and math. Whether you scored high or low on those tests, you established a base level of ability in those two subjects that determined which classes would be suitable for you to take. Maybe you’re enthusiastic about words and numbers, or perhaps you dread one or both of these subjects and would rather avoid it. Like them or not, they are important subjects that you should take early in your college career for the following reasons:

English and math are required for your degree

No matter which degree you’re working towards, there’s an English or math course listed under its requirements. All of our degrees require that you take English Composition I or an alternate higher numbered English course, and many of them require a math course at the 100 level. Taking these courses in your first semester or as soon as you’re able to will earn credit hours that apply to your general education courses, whether your degree indicates that it’s for written communication, mathematics, or general coursework. The skills that you learn in those courses will also help you with your other classes, whether you need to write a psychology paper in APA format, or calculate the correct dosage of insulin to administer to a diabetic patient for your nursing exam.

English and Math are required to take other classes

If you look up the course descriptions on ACC’s website, you’ll find what classes we offer along with a brief description of the class, the number of credit hours the class is worth, and a list of any prerequisites and co-requisites needed before you can take the course. Many classes require that you take College Composition and Reading through the English department, Quantitative literacy through the Math department, or an equivalent or higher level course from each department. Taking these courses early on makes you eligible to take other classes that are required for your degree. Certain courses also have higher level prerequisites, such as algebra- and calculus-based physics, so if you’re planning on taking those or other classes like them, it’s highly recommended that you take their prerequisites early on.

The material in these courses is useful in your day-to-day life

There are people who say that their greatest skill is that they’re grammatically gifted. However, if those people mixed up there, their, and they’re, it would be difficult to take them seriously. This is true whether you’re writing out a recipe for pie, or an equation that includes pi. English and Math skills are essential to our everyday lives, so you should prioritize learning them early. People will have an easier time understanding what you’re trying to say when you use correct grammar and punctuation, and you’ll be kinder to your finances if that online payment you’re making is entered as $100.00 instead of $10000.

Get them out of the way so you can focus on major-related courses

As I mentioned earlier, maybe one or both of these subjects isn’t your forte. While you may be tempted to put them off until later, the prospect of having to take them in the future can be a cause of unnecessary stress. If you know that you’ll have to take them anyway, take them sooner so that you can focus on the classes that you care about most. On the other hand, if you are an English or Math major because you do like working with words or numbers, taking care of the basic courses will allow you to take the more interesting advanced courses. Learning how to craft a compelling story for your first novel or calculate the trajectory of SpaceX’s crewed rockets to the ISS is much easier when you know the basics of English and math.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

HOSA International Leadership Conference

Two concurrently enrolled students from Colorado Early Colleges Parker (CECP) have qualified to represent our schools and Colorado at the HOSA International Leadership Conference this June in Orlando, Florida. Kimberlee Butts and Alex Silverhart, along with five of their CECP classmates, competed in the HOSA State Leadership Conference on February 14-16, where they tested their knowledge on a range of healthcare subjects that included clinical nursing, human growth and development, medical law and ethics, and medical math. Four of these students, including Kimberlee and Alex, went on to place in the top ten in the state for their selected categories; Kimberlee placed second for clinical nursing, and Alex placed third for medical math.

Kimberlee chose to compete in the Clinical Nursing competition at the State Leadership Conference because she would like to work as a family practitioner in the future, while Alex’s love of math led him to participate in the Medical Math competition. Kimberlee found the conference to be a great bonding experience with her peers and others who shared similar life goals. She is most looking forward to getting to meet people from around the country and bonding with the other members of her HOSA chapter at the International Leadership Conference. Alex is excited about attending the conference because he’ll have the opportunity to travel and see Disney World, where the conference will take place, and looks forward to hearing from the conference’s guest medical speakers, who in the past have included the Surgeon General.

Kimberlee’s interest in the healthcare field stems from her parents: Her father is a battalion chief with Castle Rock’s Fire and Rescue Department who has a paramedic background, and her mother runs the pediatric department at Sky Ridge Medical Center. “Seeing the way they helped people and brought people joy by saving lives inspired me to want to do something just like them to make a difference in people’s lives,” she says. She is already making a difference in people’s lives as a lifeguard, and plans to join the Navy as a medical officer. She is working on her Associate of Science degree in Biology, and hopes to attend Harvard or Johns Hopkins University. Once she has attained her medical degree and completed her military service, she wants to open up her own medical practice. She says that attending ACC has opened many doors for her and has jump-started her medical career. Her favorite part of ACC has been “The great professors and exceptional staff”.

Alex has loved the idea of helping people since he was young. “Being a part of the healthcare field gives you the skills that one needs to help improve and save the lives of those around you,” he says. After he earns his Associate of Science degree, he wants to transfer to a four-year university before enrolling at Johns Hopkins University’s medical school to become a surgeon. Since coming to ACC, Alex has enjoyed the many different math courses he’s taken, and feels that the teachers are really nice, intelligent, and understanding. “Even though I am a high school student, I am treated with respect and integrity,” he says, “I feel that I belong as much as every other student.”

This is the first year that CECP has participated in HOSA, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, thanks to a student-led effort that included the support of CECP Instructor Uma Venkitanarayanan, and school psychologist Dr. Betsy Basch. HOSA is an international student organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE). HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

Getting Through the Stress of Finals

Students studying at tableThe end of the semester is approaching, and that means final exams are on the horizon. This can be a very stressful time for many of us, since exams often count for a significant portion of the final grade, and there’s everything else going on in our lives on top of that. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your stress levels that won’t only keep you sane; they might even help you do better on your exams. Here are some of the ways that you can reduce your stress while preparing for final exams.

Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise include strengthening your bones and muscles, managing your blood sugar and insulin levels, and reducing your risk of heart disease, to name only a few things. Did you know that exercise can also lower your stress levels? According to the Mayo Clinic, virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever, and it does this in a few ways:

  • It increases your body’s production of endorphins, which are the feel-good neurotransmitters commonly attributed to the runner’s high.
  • It causes you to concentrate on your body’s movements, driving out the thoughts that are stressing you through singular focus, similar to meditation.
  • It can increase your self-confidence, relax you, and lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety, all of which will improve your mood.

If you want to use exercise as a stress reliever, the main thing is that you find an exercise that you enjoy doing. Whether it’s running, weight training, yoga, playing a sport, or even dancing, if it’s an activity that gets your body moving, it will aid in reducing the stress you’re feeling. If you’ve got the time and are on the main campus, you can visit the ACC Fitness Center in the Annex building, which has equipment that students can use for free when you swipe your student ID card.

Diet

Having a well-balanced diet, one that contains a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. While the occasional fast food outing or snack run isn’t going to ruin your diet, reaching for a cheeseburger or bag of chips might not be the best option while you’re studying. In fact, according to UCLA’s Explore Integrative Medicine site, there are certain foods and other supplements that can aid in lowering your stress levels by strengthening your immune system, stabilizing your mood, and reducing blood pressure. Here are some nutrients that can help to reduce your stress, and some foods that contain them:

  • Vitamin C – lowers your levels of cortisol (a major stress hormone) and your blood pressure during high-anxiety situations.
    • Citrus fruits, pineapple, broccoli, tomatoes.
  • Complex Carbohydrates – Increases serotonin production (which contributes to well-being and happiness) and stabilizes blood pressure.
    • Whole grains, fruits, vegetables.
  • Magnesium – Useful for avoiding headaches and fatigue, relieving premenstrual mood changes, and improving sleep quality.
    • Leafy greens, salmon, soy beans/edamame.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Reduces surges of stress hormones and promotes protection against heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
    • Tuna, salmon, pistachios, almonds.

Some common comfort foods can also give you benefits. A bit of dark chocolate not only relieves stress, but can improve your cognitive function and mood, while oatmeal can reduce your levels of stress hormones and boost your serotonin. If you enjoy drinking tea, you can benefit from chamomile, which relieves stress-induced symptoms, mint, which relieves stress and induces calmness, and barley, which relaxes the body by improving serotonin synthesis. If you’d like to pick up a healthy snack or some tea ahead of your finals, the Espresso Yourself Café on the Main Building’s first floor offers a wide range of items that have stress-relieving benefits, and will be open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm before and during finals week.

Meditation

According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, meditation as a practice is used “for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance…and enhancing overall health and well-being.” In trials and studies, it has been determined that a particular form, mindfulness meditation, shows evidence of improving anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. Here are a couple of ways that you can practice mindfulness meditation:

  • Remain aware and present in the moment – don’t let the past or future concern you, pay attention to your current surroundings without judgment.
  • Breath awareness – take slow, deep breaths, count the number of seconds you spend breathing, and ignore any thoughts that enter your head. Focus only on your own breathing.

Meditation has an advantage in that it can be done just about anywhere, and you can employ some of the breathing techniques while you’re taking your exams. One technique, called 4-7-8 breathing, is to slowly breathe in for four seconds, hold that breath for seven seconds, and then slowly exhale for eight, and repeat at least three more times, or until you’re feeling relaxed.

Sleep

Sleep and stress both influence each other. When we get the necessary amount of restful sleep per night, our stress levels on average are lower, but when we’re stressed, it becomes harder to get that good night’s rest. On top of that, stress can lead to insomnia, further making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. So what can you do to get the sleep that will help lower your stress and get you well rested for exams? The National Sleep Foundation offers these tips:

  • Exercise – releases both physical and mental tensions. Recommended at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Downtime – avoid electronics and work-related, stimulating, or stressful activities. Do calming activities such as reading, light stretching, or listening to calming music. Recommended 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.
  • Decompression techniques – deep breathing, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relaxation. Recommended five to 10 minutes before bedtime.

Other ways that you can get to sleep more easily include not eating within one to two hours before bedtime, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening, drinking herbal teas containing chamomile, valerian, or lavender, and aromatherapy.

Time Management

Between school, work, social time, and personal time, we’re trying to juggle a lot of events both in our lives and with other people’s lives, which contributes to a lot of our stress. Knowing how to effectively manage that time can help to eliminate some of that stress. The McGraw Center for Teaching & Learning at Princeton University has come up with ten principles derived from research on time management, motivation theory, and experience working with university students that can help you effectively plan out your time. Here is the abridged version:

  1. Commitment – Only schedule tasks if you’re going to do them.
  2. Pursue fun – Make time for the things you enjoy doing, and organize your academic and other obligations around those commitments to fun.
  3. Time vs. task focus – Devote time to important tasks, and set your purpose for those tasks.
  4. One thing at a time – Current research shows that what we consider to be multi-tasking is actually switching back and forth between tasks, which takes more time and energy.
  5. Block out time – Devote chunks of time to specific classes, and make those chunks a part of your regular schedule.
  6. First things first – Schedule the most important tasks to do first thing in the day, or as early as possible.
  7. Routine – With good habits in place, you don’t have to make as many hard decisions, and are less likely to make unproductive ones.
  8. Flexibility – Leave empty time slots for when your schedule changes, and schedule in recreation time.
  9. Respond vs. react – When faced with a decision to diverge from your schedule, pause and take a moment to think about it, then remember what’s most important to you and do what will help you get it.
  10. Organize your environment – Minimize distraction, maximize focus, use physical reminders, enlist the aid of friends for studying, and ask them not to call or text you when you need the time for your tasks.

Since study time should be on your agenda, here are some tips when studying for exams:

  • Review your notes often to familiarize yourself with the content.
  • Give yourself short breaks every 20-30 minutes to give your brain a chance to process the material.
  • Avoid cramming right before your exam.

Lastly, be sure to include enough time in your schedule to get to class at least five minutes early. Take into account how long your commute time is in the worst-case scenario so that you can don’t find yourself stuck on the road when your exam starts.

Whether you try one of these methods or all of them, each method has a positive influence on the effectiveness of the others, so try whichever ones fit your wants and needs and experiment. There are many other ways that you can reduce your stress as well. One such way is through the Denver Pet Partners Therapy Dog event, being held this May 6th from 11:30 – 1:30 in the library on the second floor of ACC’s main building. The library will also be offering healthy grab ‘n go snacks and extending their hours that week, giving you more opportunities to practice beneficial stress relief before finals begin.

Good luck to all of you on your exams!

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter

Take Advantage of Summer Classes

woman working at computerWe’re intimately familiar with taking classes from the fall through spring. For most of us, this has been the way we’ve gone to school since we were children, and most likely, you looked forward to the summer break eagerly. It was the time where many of us were free of the obligations of homework and were able to pursue our own interests, whether it was group activities, hanging out with friends, relaxing at home with a video game, movie, or book, or for anyone at least aged 16, starting your first job to earn some spending money. For many students though, summer was a time to take extra classes.

There are many reasons why we might have taken summer classes in high school: improving our grades, taking specialized classes, and very commonly now, to prepare for college. These are valid reasons at the high school level, but why should you take summer classes at the college level? Unlike high school, in college we have greater flexibility in choosing which classes we take, and when we want to take them. So let’s examine some of the advantages of spending time in the classroom during the summer.

  1. Spread the workload

    If you’re planning to get through school in the 2- to 4-year time frame, that means you have to average 15 credits a semester; in other words, up to five classes per. But let’s say you take two of those classes during the summer? That would reduce your average semester workload by a fifth, giving you more time to study for the other four classes and potentially increasing your grade in those classes, which can open the way to GPA-based scholarships and grants. More free time during regular semesters also means more opportunities to earn income, if you’re working while attending school.

  1. Earn your degree faster

    This is not an undertaking to be taken lightly; summer classes are typically shorter than fall and spring classes, but they also contain the same amount of course work. However, for dedicated students working to get their Associate of Applied Science degrees to enter the workforce, taking summer courses on top of a regular class load can potentially let them graduate a semester early. This means more time spent in the profession of your choosing, leading to greater opportunities for advancing your career.

  1. Save some money

    If you’re attending a 4-year university, you know that the cost of classes is much higher than attending a community college. Fortunately, earned credits can transfer, and with Colorado Guaranteed Transfer Courses, summer courses at a community college can also be a great way to take care of your general education classes while spending less at your home institution. As an added advantage, this allows you to focus more time on the courses related to your major while you’re at university.

Whether you’re going to a 2- or 4-year institution, attending college is a great way to advance your career and your life, and summer classes are one of the ways to help you do this. If you’re interested in taking summer classes at ACC, registration opened March 26 for Maymester, 8-week, and 10-week classes.

by Martin Strom, ACC Copywriter