You are going to like this! For those eligible for a Board of Governors Grant known as the BOG, there is no enrollment fee (tuition) at all.
For students who are not eligible for the BOG, the enrollment fee is only $20 per unit. A typical fulltime student carrying twelve units would pay only $240 per semester or $480 per year if they were not “BOG eligible”. To see if you are eligible for the BOG, go to the CRC financial Aid website
Your main expenses at CRC will be transportation, parking and books. In the pre-apprenticeship classes the books are currently provided since the instructor purchased a good supply. Books can be one the largest single expenses at a community college since they may run $80 to $100 per class so if you are taking additional classes other than pre-apprenticeship you should allow for books. Of course, if you are eligible for financial aid and the Cal Grant, all of these expenses could be met with those funds so be sure to file a FAFSA (financial aid application) and file for a Cal Grant. Go to FAFSA and http://www.calgrants.org/ to apply. List the Construction certificate or the Construction degree as your major goal.
There are very few additional costs. The student will need safety glasses and, by the time they enter the CONST 130 class, work boots.
Availability: There are very few programs like this one, outside of formal apprenticeship programs, where one can acquire construction skills. Apprenticeship programs can be very restrictive and one usually must get hired first to be able to begin training. Not so at CRC where interested students can enroll as they would for other classes. While the program began as a “workforce development” program meant to fast-track people into the well paying skilled trades and apprenticeships, it has quickly evolved beyond those roots. The goal remains the same, however, education in real skills for a local labor market hungry for skilled men and women builders. Graduates find opportunities with both union and nonunion employers and trade apprenticeship programs. They also apply their skills as contractors and owner-builders.
Fast track training: The Pre-Apprenticeship certificate is the core component. It is an intense and comprehensive fourteen week course, meeting Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 4:40 pm, this program is where the students learn their construction skills and hone the work habits that will keep them employed.
Real world training: Since the students are with their professor for what is essentially a normal work week, they learn to function as a part of a crew, getting to the job on time and putting in a productive day. The CRC crew works closely with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for low income families.
Steering committee: Professor Connally and Professor John Ellis of the Architecture program have formed a steering committee to make sure that the Institute of Construction and Architecture Technology programs meet the needs of local construction employers. There has been enthusiastic support on the part of industry members.
Curriculum revision: Experience has shown that a “six month program is the ideal model for pre-apprenticeship programs” states Professor Connally. The college is reorganizing the curriculum to reflect this fact by beginning with a four unit Introduction to Construction Practices course which will precede the CONST 130/131 series.
Industry participation: Professor Connally has also been active at increasing local builders’ awareness of CRC’s program. Our recent participation as the only community college program at the 2007 Design/Build competition sponsored by the Sacramento Builders’ Exchange is an example. We also hold membership in the North State Building Industry Association and participate on the Education Committee of the Sacramento Construction Consortium.
Does attainment of an AA/AS provide any advantage in entering the workforce over a certificate?
A degree does not really provide any advantage at the entry level. The additional coursework will most likely be of value to the worker after he or she has proven their skills and work habits on the job and is being considered for lead positions.
New students should go through the normal registration steps and register for CONST 299 (102), Introduction to Construction Practices. Students who are continuing after the 299 (102) class should register for CONST 130/131. If one has construction experience, they may want to speak to Professor Connally for proper placement.
This program will probably always be a day time program and the CONST 130 and 131 courses taught in both the Fall and Spring terms. The details of future scheduling are still being considered.
If a student has some construction background, Professor Connelly may waive the Introduction to Construction Practices and allow them to begin in the CONST 130/131 series
Currently, the pre-apprenticeship program uses a large classroom out in the Agricultural area and has a materials and tool storage yard. Professor Connally has a well equipped tool trailer that is towed to job sites. In the future, the program will be housed in the proposed Institute of Architecture and Construction Technology building. This building will consist of 6 to 8,000 square feet of instructional space.
Scheduling classes: The pre-apprenticeship program classes are “other term” courses and do not have the same finish dates as the regular classes so pay attention to the dates stated in the class schedule. The new schedule will make it possible to enter the program Summer, Fall or Spring. Some of these courses are also “all-day” courses running from 8 AM to 5:30 PM for the CONST 131 class.
In addition, some CMT courses like CMT 136 may be only offered once every other year so it will be critical to contact the Division Secretary to have the course rotation schedule.
Financial aid considerations: Encourage potential students to pursue the construction certificate as their educational goal since it is approved for financial aid and includes the pre-apprenticeship certificate which is not approved by itself.
Program focuses on residential construction skills: The program has a primary focus on residential construction skills as this is the largest market for entry-level employment in construction. Students can and do often go into other related trades from this beginning.
How to enroll students: New students should go through the normal registration steps and register for CONST 299 (102), Introduction to Construction Practices. Students who are continuing after the 299 (102) class should register for CONST 130/131. If one has construction experience, they may want to speak to Professor Connally for proper placement.
Who should enroll? The program is open to men and women of all ages and incomes. Ryan says that Building Inspection Technology professor Robert Keefe even suggests it for those BIT students who lack construction experience. Obviously, the student should be in good physical health since the work is strenuous.
Who are our students?
The student population seems to be shifting as the program moves away from its’ historical roots. Professor Connelly now sees three to four students a year who already have their BA degrees. Increasing numbers are also moving into Construction Management classes after the pre-apprenticeship program. Connelly has been working on an articulation agreement with Sacramento City Unified’s Luther Burbank which has a construction ROP program. We expect to see the program draw more strongly from the high school age student who is seeking an alternative to the traditional academic college program and highly expensive trade schools.
What is the classroom culture like?
Professor Connally seeks to create an “industry culture” among his students. When a group spends eight hours a day together they develop a different identity and relationship with each other than is the case when students come and go to a traditional lecture class. People begin to they can mentor and lead others. There is evident a sense of the pride that comes with accomplishing something tangible at the end of the day, perhaps that door frame that actually fits or framing a garage. Students see an immediate application of the skills they acquire. That this team work culture exists was evident in the current class’s participation in the Sacramento Builders’ Exchange 2007 Design/Build competition in March 07. CRC was the only community college present at the competition which was held at CSUS. While the crew participated as an exhibition rather than as a competition, very positive comments were made about the quality and efficiency of the crew and instructor by program officials from the Builder’s Exchange. In addition to the skill development focus, Professor Connally feels that the opportunity to build homes for deserving low income families resonates well with many of his students. For many, it may mark the first time that they do something reflecting “social responsibility” to their community.
How much of the instruction is “hands-on” or workplace simulation?
A great deal of it is hands-on. Even in the Introduction to Construction Practices course, there is a great deal of tool use. As the students progress into CONST 130 and 131, there is even more emphasis on skill development. By this point, the student is essentially working an eight hour day on the job and the “hands-on” is running at 75% of the time. Treating the student like an employee at this stage helps creates a sense of “job readiness” in the student.
What is the nature of the relationships between students and between the students and professor?
Professor Connally is equally at home with lecturing on construction career paths as he with “hanging his bags” on and climbing onto a roof to help his students. The professor and his students appear to have very close relationships and this is reflected in the comments of his students. He is very much in control of the job site and classroom activities. Much of his approach to teaching is probably rooted in the fact that he was a competitive college soccer player and majored in Sociology. He has adapted a demanding coaching style of teaching which seems perfect for this program and the students. Program retention in the pre-apprenticeship program has climbed to about 70% according to Professor Connally. This is considerably higher than most colleges’ academic retention rates.
What do students have to say about this program?
“Very cool, the best instructor”
“Great. I was looking for a way into a union apprenticeship and my aunt brought me in.”
“I was in another (program) that was more introduction. This is way more advanced and it’s a good workout. It feels good to see what I did.”
“I heard about it at Canada (college). I like the ‘hands-on’ and to see how things are done. I want to get the CMT degree. a license and to have my own business.”
“It’s fun. I just fell into it and I don’t usually like school. It is like a field trip every day and I get to work on real houses!”