December is “Michigan’s Career Exploration and Awareness Month.” While it is always on the minds of all of us in education about how to help students find their path in life, this month is intended to bring increased focus. The Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development (MTED) is leading this career exploration initiative with the vision of engaging all Michigan students in thinking about their future and careers.
The MTED Interim Director, Jeremy Hendger said, “This month is all about highlighting the array of resources and opportunities to explore careers before students graduate from high school,” (Michigan students to unwrap gift of career exploration this December, November 29, 2018). The news release goes on to state that, “with more than 811,000 career openings across the state through 2024, Michigan is working to close the talent gap.” Director Hendger added, “The more we can help students explore these opportunities earlier, the sooner we can close our talent gap and connect our young people with rewarding, great-paying careers here at home.”
Here in St. Joseph County, Glen Oaks Community College, in partnership with our eight high-schools, is enrolling hundreds of students in dual enrollment college courses. These courses range from general education offerings such as English, History, Science, Psychology, Foreign Languages, etc….to career and technical education offerings in Welding, Automotive, Computer Aided Design, Graphic Design, Marketing, Information Technology, Coding and Gaming, Ag Equipment Technology, and Medical Occupations.
One of the main advantages of the dual enrollment is that high school students have a head start on college at almost no cost to their families. This allows them to take a variety of general subjects and/or career specific courses. These experiences help shape their future career choices before they enroll full-time after high school. There is one exception to this in that Early Middle College students attend full-time for a 13th year of school supported by their K-12 district. In most cases this enables them to complete an associate degree in a career area or general studies which prepares them to transfer to a four-year institution as juniors. These EMC students work with career coaches throughout their junior, senior and 13th years to help ensure they complete the correct courses that lead to their goal of entering a career directly from GOCC or transferring to a four-year institution in a major of their choice.
Over the past six years, 2012-13 through 2017-18, 1,599 area high school seniors have dual enrolled with GOCC. Of these, 83+ percent have attended college since high school graduation, including 93 percent of non-CTE students and 60 percent of CTE students. These data are very impressive and speak well of the future success of our students going directly to a career or advanced study.
Glen Oaks faculty and staff are delighted to be help students determine and reach their educational goals. We hear often from parents, school leaders and teachers, and the community that Glen Oaks is a blessing to our citizens and an engine of change in the lives of many. Be assured that the GOCC family takes great pride in our service to our students and community.
by David H. Devier
Glen Oaks President