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The City of Chicago operates several colleges in the city, including Harold Washington College. These schools are open to students of all ages and backgrounds. If you’re looking for college opportunities in the Windy City, this is your place!
Bordering Lake Michigan, Chicago focuses immensely on education, besides tourism and entertainment. The city has a system of community colleges and satellite sites, providing learning opportunities for residents.

While some of these programs are two-year degrees, others are shorter certificates. Therefore, there’s something for people with all sorts of interests and educational backgrounds.

City Colleges Programs in Chicago

The city has an extensive system of community colleges. These seven colleges and six satellite sites offer educational opportunities for people who want to get an education at the college level.

Many of these adult education programs are two-year-long associated degree programs. Meanwhile, others are only a few weeks long and are inclined towards occupational certifications. These colleges also provide free English courses.

As per 2021 data, the adult education programs in the city have a student count of over 40,000, with 4,000 staff and faculty members. The administrative offices of the city colleges system are present in the Chicago Loop, while Juan Salgado is the chancellor.

List of City Colleges

The seven community colleges in the city include:

  • Richard J. Daley College
  • Kennedy-King College
  • Harry S Truman College
  • Harold Washington College
  • Malcolm X College
  • Olive-Harvey College
  • Wilbur Wright College

The satellite sites for learning in the city:

  • Dawson Technical Institute
  • West Side Learning Center
  • Humboldt Park Vocational Education Center
  • South Chicago Learning Center
  • Arturo Velasquez Institute
  • Achievement Academy

Additionally, the city’s satellite site for high school education is the Chicago Bulls College Prep High School. The students at this school are mostly freshman and sophomores. It is located at 222 W Adams St, Chicago, IL 60606.

Adult Education Programs

The city has continuously aimed to improve the level of education provided at the satellite sites and the community colleges. In doing so, the government started some programs.

The adult education programs of the city are intended to help adults study and earn their high school equivalency diplomas. These classes are offered free of cost here. Some of the courses provided include GED and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). After completing these programs, students can enroll in college courses.

The ESOL courses are mainly offered by the community colleges of Chicago and their satellite sites. There’s a student count of over 5,000 in these courses.

GED Courses and High School

The city operates only one high school site, the Chicago Bulls College Prep High School. The students of this school are either freshmen or sophomores, but no juniors or seniors. The school is located at 222 W. Adams St, Chicago, IL 60606 and is open from 9:00 am to 3:55 pm.

However, students can take the GED courses at seven community colleges or four satellite sites. In addition, the city offers free GED courses. They’re intended for adults who want to get their high school equivalency diplomas.

The total expenses in taking this exam are $120. However, students under the poverty line and who earn $17,505 or lower per year don’t have to pay this fee. In addition, this criterion is only for people who are born in the US, not for immigrants.

Free English Classes

Chicago has an extensive system of community colleges and high school sites. Additionally, it has free English classes for immigrants at the satellite sites of these institutions. The training period is about three months and is held four to five days per week.
The curricula included in these classes include:

  • Reading and writing English
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation and capitalization
  • Vocabulary strategies
  • Speaking strategies
  • Better translation processes

To enroll in this program, students should be over 18 years old. They should also be able to speak English at a basic level. Additionally, they must give their complete personal information before being enrolled in the program.
To learn more about this program, students can visit the website of Chicago Public Schools.

Reinvention/College to Careers

Chicago, IL, launched a program called ‘reinvention’ in 2010. The program had several initiatives designed to recommend improvements in all operations and programs of the city colleges.
It had four goals:

  • Increase the number of people getting degrees
  • Improve the outcomes for students
  • Increase adult education numbers
  • Increase the rate of transfer to four-year educational institutes

The program also wanted to ensure that students who take English as a second language advance to four-year college courses. Finally, the program was meant to bridge the gap between employer demand and public education.

The program would allow community colleges to align their campuses with certain job sectors, preparing students for careers in that industry once they have graduated.

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago in 2011, launched this program. As per the program, the colleges would partner with industry experts.

These industry experts would then work with the staff and the faculty to draw up a curriculum that facilitated students by helping them meet the demands of the employers in the job sector.

Initially, the program focused on mainstream industries that were growing exponentially. Some of these industries included logistics, distribution, transportation, and healthcare.

Student Job Placement

In 2012, the local government announced that every city college in Chicago, IL, would partner with a company to help place men and women in relevant job opportunities and devise a curriculum for teaching.

Here’s how this proposal divided the seven community colleges in the city:

  1. The Daley College would be the center of the system and focus on advanced manufacturing.
  2. The Kennedy-King College would train men and women for jobs in the hospitality and culinary industry.
  3. The Wilbur Wright College will train students to get work in the field of information technology.
  4. The Harry S Truman College will prepare men and women for natural sciences, human sciences, and education.
  5. The Olive-Harvey College would focus on preparing students for the logistics and transportation industries.
  6. Malcolm X College partnered with relevant industries to train students to get jobs in the field of healthcare.
  7. Harold Washington College was the business center of the college system, offering professional and entrepreneurship services for students.

The Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. said that dividing the colleges as per the specialties would allow the Chicago region to provide more than 600,000 jobs in the next decade.

The system was so effective that World Bank delegates visited the chancellor of city colleges Chicago and the major at Harold Washington College. There, they learned about this system of colleges partnering with industries to determine if the same systems could be implemented elsewhere in the world.

Chicago Star Scholarship

In 2014, the Chicago government started giving Chicago Star Scholarships to deserving students who had graduated from Chicago public schools and facilities. These students from Chicago public schools could get three years of free classes at one of the seven community colleges in the city if they maintained a college credit of 3.0.

By its second year, the program had helped about two thousand students attend college without paying tuition fees.

The program supports the academic success of these students after they complete community college. The scholarship program partners with fifteen universities and colleges that offer bachelor’s degree programs that help potential employers find the best graduate that meets their job requirements.

Each of these colleges committed that they would create opportunities for students after they have finished community college.

The partners would give certain packages to these students to assist their education. The monetary value of these packages ranges from $2,500 to $50,000 a year.

Some of the top educational institutes and junior colleges that partnered with the scholarship program for this initiative were:

The students can use these packages to pay tuition fees, buy books, or pay for room and board. The 15 colleges that partnered with the scholarship program pledged to provide their students up to $3 million for this initiative.

The City Colleges of Chicago Scholarship Program was started in 2012 and gave thousands of students a chance at earning a college degree. It was started by the City Colleges of Chicago Scholarship Program, and it provided more than two thousand students with scholarships to various colleges.

Many colleges pledged their support for this program. However, the value of the scholarship was determined by the institutions that the student chose. For example, if a student was to attend Illinois Institute of Technology, they received a scholarship worth $20,000 if they maintained a college credit of 3.0 while at City Colleges of Chicago.

The program was very successful for many students, but unfortunately, the program ended in 2015.

At first glance, it may seem that there are too many community colleges in Chicago, but these colleges have a very important role to play in the city. Most of these schools have areas of study that they focus on, which allows them to provide students with a more deeply educated experience.

In addition, these community colleges have partnered with universities to offer scholarships for those who may not be able to pay for college. With the help of these scholarships, students are given a chance to pursue their education without worrying about how they will pay for it.

This partnership has been very helpful for many students from Chicago public schools who have succeeded in doing well enough in community college to transfer to a four-year university.

Corporate Partnerships

The City Colleges of Chicago has partnered with over 150 corporates who work together with the staff and faculty at the colleges to develop curriculum while training the students for their in-field jobs by giving professional services.
The partners also assist the students in getting jobs once they have graduated.

The City Colleges of Chicago are also partners of the Chicago Public Schools. Together, they have created the City Colleges of Chicago Dual Credit Program. As for this program, high school students can earn college credit and high school credit while gaining advanced knowledge of English or mathematics.

The high school students can also enroll in the dual enrollment program on campus to take college-level courses at one of the many City Colleges of Chicago campuses.

In 2012, 250 students enrolled in this program. The number doubled in 2013 and went up to 3,100 by 2016.

Getting College Education in Chicago

Depending on your interests and the kind of job you want to land in the future, you can choose a city college for yourself in Chicago. The seven colleges focus on different niches and industries, giving students a chance to stick to a certain field.

Since the colleges have partnered with industries, students have a higher chance of scoring a job. Along with being eligible for the scholarship program, students can also get financial aid based on their GPA. Here is a brief overview of these colleges in Chicago, IL.

College of Health Care Professions

At college, students can take professional courses that specialize in the healthcare industry. In addition, the College of Health Care Professions offers a wide range of degrees, starting from certificates and diplomas to degrees. The college also offers weekend classes, which is a great way for students who cannot attend full-time or weekday classes to get through school.

Students can also participate in the dual enrollment program that allows high school students to attend college courses for free. The college also offers evening and weekend courses for students who work full time.

This college focuses on the hospitality industry by offering high-quality education to students who want to become experts in the field. As of 2016, there are more than 20 areas of study at Kendall College.

The college has several online programs, which are very convenient to those who cannot attend classes every day because of work. Kendall College also offers night classes.

Richard Daley College

The Richard Daley College offers two-year community college courses with a focus on advanced hospitality and manufacturing. Originally, the college was called William Bogan Junior College back in 1960.

Since then, the college has increased in size and was later renamed after the death of the mayor, Richard Daley. The college offers several night courses and is one of the most diverse community colleges in Chicago.

The Richard Daley College has a separate Continuing Education Division that offers professional courses to workers in the area. It is one of the largest community college divisions in Illinois.

This college offers students many opportunities to gain a new skill set through their hands-on courses. The college offers hands-on training, which is why it has an excellent placement rate.

The college also offers online courses that let students work at their own pace. The college has four campuses located in the city of Chicago.

The Eugene Field College

This college offers students a chance to gain practical skills through hands-on courses, including the culinary arts and hotel management. In addition, the college offers a variety of short-term to full-time courses.

The Eugene Field College also organizes the Chicago Chef Series, which invites world-renowned chefs to the school and allows students to get up close and personal with these famous names in the culinary world.

The college has a separate division dedicated to architecture and construction. Students can also apply for the college’s scholarship program, which is open to financial needs students.

Kennedy-King College

The college offers two-year associate degree programs. Originally, the college was named Woodrow Wilson College. But it was later renamed to Kennedy-King College after the assassination of both these figures.

In 2015, the school was awarded as one of the best colleges in Illinois by the Aspen Institute. The college enrolls students from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

The college offers online courses and night courses for students who work full-time and cannot take regular classes. In addition, the college has a military division that is open to students in the army.

This college was originally called the East Illinois Normal School of Psychology until it was later named Jane Addams. The college has existed for over 100 years, which means it’s one of the oldest community colleges in Chicago.

Malcolm X College

Malcolm X College offers two-year degree programs along with some certificate programs. Its original name was Crane Junior College. It was founded in 1911 and was one of the first city colleges in Chicago.

Malcolm X College offers academic courses as well as professional classes. In addition, it has a division that is dedicated to military students and veterans. The college was named after Malcolm X in 1982.

The college offers night courses and online courses for students who cannot attend classes every day because of their jobs or other responsibilities. In addition, the college offers students the opportunity to work on campus.

Olive-Harvey College

The Olive-Harvey College offers many short-term training, certificate, and associate degree programs to serve Chicago’s south. After graduating from college, graduates can either directly go to the workforce or go for a four-year course in a university.

The college also offers courses for students who wish to upgrade their skills. In addition, the college has a separate division for architecture and construction. It was named after two of its former students, Olive Dennis Harvey and Ella Josephine Baker.

Truman College

Truman College, previously known as Mayfair College, offers a range of two-year associate degrees and occupational training in many fields. It is one of the largest community colleges in Chicago, IL, with a study body of 23,000.

The college also offers a multitude of night courses and online courses to help students. The college has been recognized as one of the best community colleges in the country by the Aspen Institute.

The college has a division for military students and veterans which offers jobs, training programs, and counseling sessions. The school is named after Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States.

Harold Washington College

Present in the Loop of Chicago, Harold Washington College was named Loop College founded in 1962. Since then, it has been renamed after the first African American mayor of the city. The college offers short-term certificate and diploma courses. It was named after Harold Washington because of his dedication to public education.

The college has separate divisions for international students and military students. The college enrolls approximately 10,000 students and offers courses in the nighttime and online for working students.

The college was originally called East–West College of Commerce and later renamed Harold Washington College in 1987 after the death of Washington.

Waubonsee Community College

Waubonsee Community College offers associate degrees in arts, science, and applied sciences. It is in the Sugar Grove of Illinois, with a branch in Aurora.

The college also offers certificate and diploma courses such as welding, carpentry, and machine tool technology. In addition, it is the only community college in Illinois with an agricultural school, which offers students the chance to learn new skills.

The college was founded in 1966. It was named after the Potawatomi tribe, which occupied the Illinois River Valley. The college enrolls more than 6,000 students.

White Earth Tribal and Community College

Serving the Native American community of Chicago, White Earth Tribal and Community College was founded in 1988. It is the first community college for Native Americans and one of the two tribal colleges in the state of Illinois.

The college offers a wide range of programs ranging from short-term certificates to four-year degrees and continuing education programs. It is a small-sized college with an enrollment of around 2,900 students each year.

The college was named White Earth Tribal and Community College after the White Earth Reservation, an Indian reservation of Ojibwe people in Minnesota. The college was founded in 1988. It was originally called North Central Community College before it was renamed White Earth Tribal and Community College in 1997.

Wilbur Wright College

Previously known as Wright Junior College, established in 1934, Wilbur Wright College offers several associate degrees to prepare graduates for their workforce or university journeys.

Final Words

From Chicago’s south to the Loop, there are education opportunities for students in all corners of the city, thanks to community colleges and satellite learning sites.

Students can study and be trained by professionals to work in various industries, from computer science and healthcare to logistics and manufacturing.

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