The public image of applied tech certificate programs today is that of lipstick on a pig. That needs to change!
Every day I’m talking to formerly unsuccessful public high school students and adult returnees, immigrants and refugees. They’re taking advantage of a new high school beginning at Horizonte Instruction and Training Center, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education center. I’m the career advisor and fund raiser for privately funded applied tech and college scholarships.
To a person, these folks all dream of going to college. They’ve heard from teachers and others school-related, and seen on television and the internet that “college” is where everyone goes to be successful. Regardless of their personal circumstances (young parent, no parents, foster parent(s), youth in custody), their absenteeism and past poor grades, college is their dream. Applied Technology College and the School of Applied Technology at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), are tough, new promotional opportunities, even to these low-income, mostly minority students.
They believe SLCC provides a “two-year” associate degree. They think they can work full-time and take a couple of classes each semester and finish in two years. It’s an eye opener when they learn they need 15 credits, not six or nine, per semester to get their two-year degree. A 2015 survey of the 600 plus Horizonte alumni at SLCC revealed a six year plus community college part-time commitment to graduate.
The SLCC School of Applied Tech (SAT) has one very effective “outreach” representative (recruiter) for their 30 plus certificate programs. They have no audio-visual marketing tools. They (SLCC) market the community college as if their students (50,000 enrolled) who can’t gain or don’t seek admission to the more “prestigious” “four-year” public and private institutions have another place to go.
There are thousands of alternative high school graduates, youth and adult, who earn their diplomas every year. Typically they test into no college credit preparatory math and English classes where they usually need more than two semesters to exit to college credit or they’re fed-up, disheartened, and quit. They should be sold on the idea of an applied tech professional certificate earned in a year or less that results in a $15-$20 per hour starting wage. Then, based on their people skills, hard work, and professionalism, they’ll advance.
Horizonte needs help promoting these applied tech opportunities. We raise private dollars for renewable applied tech and college scholarships. We support through a certificate to an associate degree, if the student desires and qualifies.