What's Now: College of Choice
College of Choice
FVTC students graduate with employable skills that industries need.
Whether you’re channel surfing or driving along a nearby freeway, advertisements for higher education are everywhere! The reality is our economy is crying for advanced skills, so earning a degree today simply isn’t good enough… you must put the degree to work.
“More than ever, it is critical for high school students and their parents to be aware of the employment picture when considering a college or university,” says Chris Matheny, chief academic officer at Fox Valley Technical College. “Today, there are not enough individuals with the necessary qualifications to fill positions in this region based on the job postings we receive.”
Matheny noted that around 60% of the jobs in the region require specific post-secondary training. “Our close connections with area employers ensure that Fox Valley Tech graduates have employable skills,” he adds. “We also work proactively to provide students with a variety of career readiness workshops as part of their learning experience. These are the primary reasons why every year about 90% of our graduates land jobs.”
Valarie Wojcik, a 2009 graduate of FVTC’s Industrial Welding Technician program, first came to the Appleton campus as a senior in high school to participate in a mini-chopper build team project. She had no idea of what she wanted in a career. “Through this experience, I discovered that I really loved welding,” she recalls. “This high school project opened my eyes to what I wanted to do in life.”
Wojcik excelled in the associate degree program at FVTC and then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Welding Engineering Technology from Ferris State University in Michigan. “All my credits transferred,” she states. “In fact, I had more hands-on experience than my peers did who had started at a four-year school. Even better, I had my Fox Valley Tech loans paid off before I entered the workforce.”
Today, Wojcik works as a project engineer for Hirotec America in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a company that develops and installs assembly lines for the automotive industry. “When I help install a new assembly line system, I usually surprise a lot of plant workers because I know how to weld,” she laughs.
Through classroom study combined with hands-on applications and internships, FVTC’s students graduate with employable skills that industries need. “We play a vital role in economic development by providing skilled talent for entry-level positions, in addition to training employees at many companies through continuous education,” says Matheny. “Either way, the college works in concert with area industries to help close the skills gap that is plaguing our economy.”
Parent-to-Parent: What Matters in Selecting a College
As part of its annual Community Open House in October, FVTC engaged parents in a community dialogue on what matters to them when choosing a college or university. A parent panel and facilitators led a discussion on what factors were considered in this decision-making process.
Here is a summary of considerations that were shared by parents of high school students, college students, and college graduates:
- Where are the jobs?
- What skills are needed for those jobs?
- Is there available data on salary expectations for various careers?
- Start planning for a career path earlier in high school.
- Which colleges provide transfer opportunities for continuous education?
- Explore dual credit opportunities with colleges while in high school.
- Examine student debt and affordability when looking at colleges as part of a career path.
- Spread the word to middle school and high school guidance counselors about the value of associate degrees.
- What are the opportunities to get involved on campus or in the community?