Posts Tagged ‘community college’

How Community Colleges Help Build the Workforce

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Last week, ATE held its annual Principal Investigators Conference in Washington DC, titled “Overcoming Barriers and Boundaries.” As part of the program, Keynote speaker Kumar Garg, of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy focused on efforts that the Obama administration is taking in its support of community colleges, recognizing the important role they play in helping American students prepare for jobs requiring scientific and technological skills.

More than 6 million students are enrolled in community colleges, providing students with several important advantages – affordable tuition, flexible course schedules and convenient locations, among other things. Community colleges are of particular value to students who are older, who are working, or who need remedial classes. Furthermore, community colleges actively work with businesses and industry to tailor their programs to meet current economic needs, such as health information technology, advanced manufacturing or green jobs.

Last spring, for example, the President announced a major expansion of the Skills for America’s Future program, an industry-led initiative to improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nationwide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs and job placements.

The specific goals of the program aim to train about 500,000 workers in 30 states over the next five years – and at the same time, spur economic growth and lower the nation’s unemployment rate. The initiative also aims to develop a manufacturing skills certification program, that would establish a universally accepted credential, and to win adoption of the program at 200 community colleges.

“Last year, we launched Skills for America’s Future to bring together companies and community colleges around a simple idea: making it easier for workers to gain new skills that will make America more competitive in the global economy,” according to a quote from President Obama in a White House press release.

Learn about more ways that community college programs and how they are preparing students for careers in the scientific and technological arenas at the website of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Stay Tuned: It’s Never Too Early to Get Started

Monday, August 8th, 2011

It’s never too early to start thinking about college and in the new fall season, ATETV will focus on some of the programs and preparations that can help high-school students start paving their way to a successful college experience.

The “From High School to College” series will provide viewers with firsthand accounts from students, teachers and guidance counselors. Here’s a preview of what’s to come:

Dual-enrollment programs. Did you know that many community colleges offer students the opportunity to take classes while they’re still in high school? Dual enrollment provides a head start on earning credit hours and getting a taste of college life, and ATETV will talk with students and their teachers at various high schools about the experience. In one video for example, we’ll visit a college-level Web Design class where students are simultaneously earning high-school and college credits. We’ll also share resources and information to help viewers learn about dual enrollment opportunities in their communities.

Making the transition.
ATETV will also visit programs like one community college “bridge” program that is helping students make the transition from high-school to college – and preparing them for success in technology and STEM fields. Through the videos and blogs, we’ll also share tips and ideas with students and their families to help with the college-preparation process: where to go for background materials, suggestions for informational interviews and ways that students can start developing the skills and habits that colleges – and employers – value and expect.

Stay tuned – a new season is just around the corner!

Community Colleges: A Look Back and A Look Ahead

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Community colleges have gotten a lot of attention over the past year, generating widespread discussion in the business community, the academic community and especially in the White House. Early this month, the 91st annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) held in New Orleans, took a look back at how community colleges first came into existence — and a glimpse forward at what lies ahead. You might be surprised at the similarities.

The community college program is 110 years old. According to the AACC, most historians point to the founding of Joliet Junior College, near Chicago, in 1901, as the beginning of this popular program. As the AACC notes, “…the roots of this uniquely American contribution to higher education [lie] in a social movement that widely broadened access to higher education and training opportunities to students who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to attend college due to economic, mobility and social barriers.” Today, Joliet Junior College is the oldest community college still in operation.

The term “community college” was first used in 1947. Harry Truman was president and World War II was over. The Truman Commission report was the first time the term “community colleges” was used. It recommended that the community college program be expanded to every state to meet the educational and training needs of returning veterans as well as the country’s growing need for skilled workers in a rapidly shifting economy.

Today, there are close to 1,200 accredited community college programs throughout the country and there is a community college within a short commute of 90 percent of the U.S. population. And now, as then, community colleges are providing training for returning veterans, and continue to playing an essential role in preparing the nation’s workforce to meet the needs of changing local economies.

The community college has even gone global. Our “uniquely American” education model can now be found around the world. According to the AACC, community colleges can now be found in Saudia Arabia, Qatar, Vietanam, Thailand and the Republic of Georgia. In addition, the AACC has signed cooperative agreements with postsecondary education systems in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

What lies ahead for community colleges? Plenty. Check out the keynote address
delivered by AACC President Dr. Walter Bumphus at this month’s annual meeting. Dr. Bumphus said it best: “Never in more than 100 years of service have [community colleges] been more visible or valued.”

Coming up SOON on ATETV!

Friday, April 1st, 2011

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A Sneak Preview

Last year’s White House Summit launched an important discussion of the many key roles that community colleges play in workforce development and in student success, particularly in the technology fields.

Now, this year, the conversation continues, with the U.S. Department of Education holding a series of four regional community college summits at cities around the country, which will culminate in a Community College Virtual Symposium the week of April 25th.

With that in mind, we thought we’d take this opportunity to join in on the conversation with a “sneak preview” of some of the subjects that ATETV will be covering in upcoming episodes later this spring. The 40 new programs will blend solid “how-to” information and classroom profiles with visits to some of the nation’s most prominent technology companies to help students get the most out of the community-college experience and provide employers and educators with important resources.

For example, the “101 Series” will provide viewers with a crash-course in the community college experience. Beginning with in-depth examinations of course curriculum and academic requirements in a variety of community college programs, and ending with up-close examinations of the career paths that these programs can lead to, these ATETV segments will include first-person interviews with employed technicians to learn how they landed their positions.

A second focus of upcoming ATETV programs will be the four-part “From High School to College” series created to help students explore higher-education opportunities while they are still in high school, and provide them with an important head-start to their future career paths. Specific subjects will focus on dual-enrollment programs, and the value of informational interviews.

Other segments will take viewers behind-the-scenes of leading technology employers, offer students career-building “tech tips,” and visit community-college classrooms around the country, providing students with “previews” of course content – before they enroll.

Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to talk about!

Getting Off to a Great Start

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Are You Ready for a New School Year?

It’s back to school season, and for students entering their first year of college or those returning to school after a while, that can mean big changes and big decisions. Among the biggest decisions: Selecting classes and creating a schedule. As Lynn Jacobs and Jeremy Hyman, authors of The Secrets of College Success, put it, “For many students, the most striking difference between college and high school is that at college there’s no one there to stand over you and tell you what to do.” In other words, it’s up to you to determine your workload and create a schedule that’s manageable — for you.

We found several web sites offering advice and encouragement on how to go about this seemingly overwhelming task — without becoming overwhelmed! Here are some of the suggestions they offer:

1. Take your time. Carefully review the course catalog and determine which classes are part of the core requirements for your area of study. The College Board website recommends that you get required classes out of the way. Before you register, check to see if you may have already fulfilled core requirements; if, for example, you scored high on placement exams in high school, you may be exempt from some college classes.

2. Don’t overdo it. Be realistic about your time and commitments as you consider your class load. Will you be working part-time while you are in school? How much travel time do you need to allot each day? How much time should you leave for studying? Another consideration, particularly for science students, is the number of classes that will require laboratory sections, which mean an additional time requirement. Check out this article from suite101 for more ideas on carefully selecting your college workload.

3. Use available resources. Many colleges will assign you an academic adviser for your first year – don’t be shy about arranging a meeting with him or her to get input on your class selections. And, keep in mind, that advisers and other services are available throughout the school year to help you succeed.

4. Think ahead. College classes are more challenging than high school classes. As you make your course selections, it’s a good idea to take into consideration your overall schedule and your “studying style.” According to U.S. News & World Report (as part of its annual special issue on education), a typical course load of four or five classes translates into as much as 20 to 25 hours a week of studying time. Check out this article for advice from students on how they developed good study habits (and learn what pitfalls they encountered along the way). Other study tips can be found at www.collegeboard.com as well.

5. Finally, don’t forget to pursue your passion. Lynn Jacobs and Jeremy Hyman remind new students to select at least one course each semester in a subject “that you’re good at and are really interested in.”

Good luck and have a fabulous new school year!

Student Update: From Community College to a Four-year Degree

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

In this week’s first segment, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College (GBCC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain is a great example of how a community college degree can give students a head start to a four-year degree; he’s currently finishing up his bachelor’s in microbiology at the University of New Hampshire.
“What I learned in the two-year program at Great Bay Community College really gave me a great head start at UNH,” Shain told us when we checked in for an update this week. “My credits all transferred, and I found that I had a much better understanding of biology and biochemistry than many of the other students I was taking classes with at UNH.”
Shain thinks GBCC’s hands-on approach has given him a leg up on his fellow UNH students. “I spent a great deal of my time at GBCC in the labs, working with real lab equipment using real lab techniques, and that’s an advantage that has really done great things for me,” he said.
His community college education has also helped Shain in the classroom, as he learned in his virology class his very first day at UNH: “The professor asked the class to describe the difference between transcription and translation, and the first few students who answered the question were incorrect! I was very surprised, as this was something that we had gone over in great detail in the Biotechnology classes at GBCC.”
Shain’s the rare student who knew in high school what he wanted to do for a career, but he says he’s been guided by some simple advice that he received from his grandparents. “Do what interests you,” he advises other students. “Studying, working, and paying attention in a lecture is much easier when the subject matter is something you have a passion for.”
Shain is planning on graduating from UNH this spring. He’s in the process of applying for master’s programs and other opportunities. Whatever comes next, his time at GBCC and his own work ethic have put him in a great position to succeed.

In this week’s first segment, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College (GBCC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain is a great example of how community colleges can help propel students towards a four-year degree; he’s currently finishing up his bachelor’s in microbiology at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).

“What I learned in the two-year program at Great Bay Community College really gave me a great head start at UNH,” Shain told us when we checked in for an update this week. “My credits all transferred, and I found that I had a much better understanding of biology and biochemistry than many of the other students I was taking classes with at UNH.”

Shain thinks GBCC’s hands-on approach has given him a leg up on his fellow UNH students. “I spent a great deal of my time at GBCC in the labs, working with real lab equipment using real lab techniques, and that’s an advantage that has really done great things for me,” he said.

His community college education has also helped Shain in the classroom, as he learned in his virology class his very first day at UNH: “The professor asked the class to describe the difference between transcription and translation, and the first few students who answered the question were incorrect! I was very surprised, as this was something that we had gone over in great detail in the biotechnology classes at GBCC.”

Shain’s the rare student who knew in high school what he wanted to do for a career, but he says he’s been guided by some simple advice that he received from his grandparents: “Do what interests you. Studying, working, and paying attention in a lecture is much easier when the subject matter is something you have a passion for.”

Shain plans to graduate from UNH this spring. He’s in the process of applying for master’s programs and other opportunities. Whatever comes next, his time at GBCC and his own work ethic have put him in a great position to succeed.

ATETV Episode 13: Technology in the Lab and on the Farm

Monday, December 14th, 2009

This week we’re exploring how ATE programs are preparing students for work not only in traditional high-tech settings like medical laboratories and electronics shops, but also out in the fields of American agriculture.
First, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain has turned his childhood passion for science into a two-year degree, a paid apprenticeship at a pharmaceutical company, and now a four-year degree at the University of New Hampshire. You can read an update about him here. [LINK]
Next we head to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Kelsey Meyerhoff is working towards her own two-year degree in agricultural technology. Among other things, she’s learning to use GPS technology to track soil samples in the field, a skill she first learned in a workshop while still in high school. Her classes are predominantly male, but Kelsey says that doesn’t bother her. “It’s just a challenge you push through, and you don’t look at it as something that holds you back,” she says.
Finally this week, we meet a dedicated educator who is sharing what he learned during his long career. Richard LeBlanc is the head of the electronics department at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, where he teaches students to repair electronic equipment, including many of the advanced medical devices used in hospitals today. A graduate of the institute himself, LeBlanc knows the value of ATE programs firsthand. He also knows, from his industry contacts, that teaching students how to communicate effectively is just as important as teaching the technicaThis week we’re exploring how ATE programs are preparing students for work not only in traditional high-tech settings like medical laboratories and electronics shops, but also out in the fields of American agriculture.

First, we meet Shain Eighmey, a graduate of the biotechnology program at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Shain has turned his childhood passion for science into a two-year degree, a paid apprenticeship at a pharmaceutical company, and now a four-year degree at the University of New Hampshire.

Next we head to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Kelsey Meyerhoff is working towards her own two-year degree in agricultural technology. Among other things, she’s learning to use GPS technology to track soil samples in the field, a skill she first learned in a workshop while still in high school. Her classes are predominantly male, but Kelsey says that doesn’t bother her. “It’s just a challenge you push through, and you don’t look at it as something that holds you back,” she says.

Finally this week, we meet a dedicated educator who is sharing what he learned during his long career. Richard LeBlanc is the head of the electronics department at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston, where he teaches students to repair electronic equipment, including many of the advanced medical devices used in hospitals today. A graduate of the institute himself, LeBlanc knows the value of ATE programs firsthand. He also knows, from his industry contacts, that teaching students how to communicate effectively is just as important as teaching the technical skills.

Jane Ostrander: Scenario-based Learning and Social Media

Monday, November 30th, 2009

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First off, we hope you and your family had a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

A couple weeks back, we talked to Gordon Snyder about using social media in the classroom. This week we’re hearing another perspective from Jane Ostrander, Director of the Experimental Learning Center at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif.

Jane is writing her dissertation about the reasons why people choose to participate in online knowledge sharing. It boils down to a cost/benefit analysis: “The potential participant must see some value in participating that outweighs whatever costs s/he anticipates will occur as a result of that participation.”

Once an online community is established, it’s vital to make sure participants have a stake in the conversation. Jane cites research showing that “a sense of either personal ownership or stewardship of the information enhanced sharing.”

Jane and her team are putting these insights to work in an online community on the educational site Tapped In. They’re using the site to explore new ways to disseminate instructional materials and lesson plans, and to develop online “wizards” to provide advice to community college instructors. Jane has also used YouTube as a way to get materials out to a wide audience without spending a lot of money – “always a concern with budget-impaired community college faculty,” she notes.

As for other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, Ostrander thinks it’s important not to confuse tools with learning. She hopes that her fellow teachers remember the lesson from the advent of the personal computer. “Buying and networking a bunch of computers and parking them in the back of the classroom did not automatically enhance teaching and learning in that classroom,” she notes.

“Social network tools provide educators with a means to connect with and inform students, but that’s not the same thing as facilitating learning,” she says. “The interaction between teacher, student, content and environment – including the available tools – is what makes learning happen in the classroom.”

In other words, it’s not the technology but what teachers are able to do with it that makes a difference for students. That’s why she’s staying actively involved in her Tapped In community. “Essentially, our project team is driving the bus at this point, though hopefully not forever, whereas social media tools just deliver the bus and a set of keys and say, ‘Go for it; make of it what you will.’”

ATETV Episode 10: Back to Fundamentals

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

We’ve been talking a lot about big ideas in ATE on this blog: women in science and tech, social media as an educational tool, and the coming green economy. This week we’re turning to focus on two very practical and important parts of the educational experience: the math and science classes high school students need to be taking to get into ATE programs, and the internships that will help them land jobs after they complete their degrees.

But first, we profile student Matthew Kusza, who is studying environmental technology at Cape Cod Community College. Like many of our previous student profiles, Matthew turned to ATE to help him change careers. “I have four kids, and keeping busy with that and school and working to pay the bills,” he told us. “Most of the classes are at night, so that’s very supportive in terms of a work environment.”

Next we head out west to Southwestern College in San Diego, which has had fantastic success placing students in internships — and placing interns in jobs after school. “We still to this day have a hundred percent hiring rate with the industry of any intern that has completed a ten-week internship with an industry host,” explains Nouna Bakhiet, director of the school’s biotechnology program. By consulting with industry when designing their program, Southwestern is guaranteeing that students are graduating with the skills companies want and need.

Finally, we get back to basics and discuss the importance of basic math and science skills for ATE students. It’s not just that taking those classes in high school will better prepare students for ATE programs; it’s also essential for landing a job afterwards. “In our world, it’s of utmost importance that they have science and math because without that, they don’t have the technical expertise that we require,” explains Jill Heiden of South Carolina-based ESAB Welding and Cutting Products.

Math, science and internships: three fundamental building blocks of a strong ATE program and a successful career and in science and technology.

ATETV Episode 9: Women in Science

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

This week we have two stories about bringing more women into science and engineering — and one of them involves some pretty cool lasers!

First, we visit with female students and educators at Florence-Darlington Technical College in South Carolina. Many of the ATE students here are male, but administrators are making progress attracting more women. “If you can present education in a way that taps into those natural abilities of females, then they can excel in ways they never thought they could excel,” says Elaine Craft, Director of South Carolina Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence (SC ATE) and an ATETV advisor.

In neighboring North Carolina, Central Carolina Community College is attracting female students by offering them a free education. “All females can go to school for free: free tuition, free books,” explains CCCC’s Gary Beasley. “You can’t beat that.” We profile Katie Renshaw, a student in CCCC’s lasers and photonics program where she gets to work with some amazing equipment, including a laser powerful enough to burn a block of wood!

This week, we also meet Kevin Ross, who is studying HVAC at Benjamin Franklin Technical Institute in Boston. Kevin had been out of school for 20 years before he was laid off. Now he’s studying to become a licensed HVAC technician. His story highlights the crucial role that technician education programs play in helping workers update their skills to adapt to the demands of a changing economy.