SIDNEY – Normally, teachers frown on arriving late to class.
But students at Montcalm Community College (MCC) were given permission by their college president to be late for their 1 p.m. classes if they attended a special presentation about the importance of “committing to complete” their college degrees.
The presentation featuring keynote speakers Rod Risley, executive director of the national Phi Theta Kappa organization, and Janet Bloomfield, vice president for employment and training with the Central Area Michigan Works Consortium, was the final event of a week-long “Dream to Complete” week at MCC, which was planned in correlation with a national program titled “C4: Community College Completion Corps.”
Special activities were planned throughout the week to encourage students in their academic careers. Events included learning about strategies for degree completion, exploration of career options and the degrees needed to pursue various careers.
During Thursday afternoon’s presentation, Risley challenged the student body about why it matters to complete their degrees.
He said of the 14 million students currently enrolled in community colleges across the country, only about 700,000 will eventually get their baccalaureate degree.
He also said the United States has fallen from No. 1 in the world for higher education to No. 12 – something he called a “very serious matter.”
“We have a workforce (in America), but not a properly skilled workforce,” Risley said. “By 2018, 67 percent of all new jobs will require a post-secondary credential. And we’re talking about a livable wage income.”
He said the longer it takes and the more money it takes to earn a college degree, the more unlikely it is that a student will complete their degree – which is why community colleges are so important in today’s economy and gaining more attention in the national spotlight.
“Ivy League schools recruit community college students because we have the data now that shows that by attending community colleges, you have the necessary skills and leadership necessary (for further education),” Risley said. “And you do it for a lot cheaper.”
He said any sacrifices made to complete a degree or certificate are worth it.
“You’ll never regret sacrificing now for what you’ll gain in the future,” Risley said.
Bloomfield encouraged the students to avoid deciding a career solely based upon “job demand,” but instead to use occupational demands as a guide to focus on interests.
“Your passion is what you need to drive you,” she said. “But just doing the (college) work is not enough. You’ll need something to make you stand out from the crowd.”
She recommended students check out two books by Richard Bolles – “The Job Hunter’s Survival Guide” and “What Color is Your Parachute?” – to help guide them to find jobs in their fields of interest.
MCC student Breanna Lintemuth of Amble, who also serves as vice president of MCC’s Alpha Tau Alpha Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, was pleased with how well the “Dream to Complete” week went overall.
“I think the students learned a lot,” she said.
Students were encouraged to sign a “Commit to Complete” banner that will be displayed in the student commons area for everyone to see for the rest of the year.