New Jersey's community colleges feel they've proven their worth. They just want to make sure you're aware.

A statewide awareness campaign launched by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges and the state's 18 community colleges, named "Proven," is attempting to promote the benefit and value of attending a two-year school.

The campaign's launch comes during a pandemic, when many high-schoolers and their families may be hesitant about heavy spending, booking on-campus housing, or even viewing a campus in-person to get a feel for a four-year institution.

"We felt that the word proven really underscores the important role that our colleges play in the state, in their counties," said Council President Aaron Fichtner.

The educational institutions provide opportunities to more than 300,000 New Jersey residents each year, the Council noted. More than half of all New Jersey undergraduate students in public colleges and universities are enrolled in programs at one of the state's community colleges.

"County colleges also play an incredibly important role for people of all ages. They really are a place for people to re-skill, retrain," Fichtner said. "And there are many of our graduates that get credentials or get an associate's degree, and go on and have very good careers without the need to continue on to a four-year education."

Fichtner, former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said the health crisis will more than likely deliver a "very different economy from the one we left behind." Since the pandemic forced businesses to close in March, more than 1.6 million New Jersey workers have filed for unemployment insurance benefits.

"I think we are in a very unique and important moment in our state's history, and we, as 18 community colleges, are committed to doing our part to help the state recover from this pandemic and this economic crisis," Fichtner said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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