palo alto college

Weigh Your Options: Comparing Palo Alto College

Palo Alto College may be a great school to quickly begin a profitable career, but there are other choices. Click here to weigh your options.

You want to continue your education, but you don’t want to spend too much time in school. You want to begin a new career straight after you graduate, but you don’t want to run up a large amount of debt. There is one obvious option: Palo Alto College; however, other schools may be even better for your needs. Weigh the pros and cons before coming to your final decision.

Courses on Offer

At Palo Alto College, you can enroll in a program leading to an associate degree or AAS Certificate. All associate degrees require you to take a variety of courses, including a number that will be unrelated to your major.

If you study an Associate of Applied Science, you will be prepared to work for a specific job, such as computer programmer, aircraft dispatcher, or oil and gas production technician. Similarly, an Associate of Arts in Teaching usually leads straight to employment.

Most of the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, on the other hand, involve a broader area of study, meaning it may be less clear as to what career the program leads. Examples including political science, drama, dance, geology, and agriculture.

Certificate programs at Palo Alto College are like those you find at vocational schools. Options at the college include warehouse management, floral design technician, Cisco certified network associate, and data entry technician.

Southern Careers Institute also offers certification courses. At SCI, you can study a program to become an administrative assistant, business accounting specialist, cosmetologist, HVAC technician, medical assistant, medical billing and coding specialist, medical office specialist, pharmacy technician, or welder, all careers for which workers are in high demand.

Course Lengths

An associate degree at Palo Alto College requires at least two years to complete if you study full time and even longer if you take evening or weekend classes. At both community college and SCI, most certification programs last just 40 hours.


Palo Alto College is least expensive for in-district students, who pay anywhere between $504 (for one to six semester hours) to $1,418 (for 21 semester hours). Out-of-district students pay up to $3,962, but non-residents and international students may pay up to $7,407. As this excludes books, materials, and other expenses, it can be costly to take an associate degree, as you’ll be in school for two whole years without the chance for full-time employment.

Tuition at SCI ranges from $13,020 to $19,945, including registration, a set of books, two sets of uniforms, a certification exam, and an official transcript. Plus, there are a range of financial options available, including grants, loans, scholarships, and military benefits, meaning many students pay far less than the full cost.

Neither Palo Alto College nor SCI is the clear winner. The better option for you will depend on what you want to study, how long you want to spend in school, and your overall career goals. Visit campuses, talk to faculty and students, and research both choices fully before making up your mind to ensure you choose the right school for you.

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