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Time to finish what you started

It’s been too long. You’re not smart enough. You don’t have time.

Going back to school as an adult can be daunting. I can relate to the fears and doubts that creep into your mind, because I once had them too. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized I wanted to pursue a degree.

I started at Marshall Community & Technical College, now known as Mountwest, where I obtained an associate degree. Going back to school unveiled my passion for counseling students, so after graduation, I continued on to Marshall University where I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

I’m here to tell you not to let those doubts overtake your drive. Not only should you do it for yourself, but this community and workforce need you.

It’s estimated that there are more than 160,000 adults in West Virginia with some college education but no degree, roughly 29,000 with 60 credit hours or more (more than halfway there).

As the dean of student services at Mountwest Community & Technical College, I can tell you that the statistics are no better in our area. In Cabell, Putnam, Mason and Wayne counties, nearly 30,000 individuals 25 or older have some post-secondary education but have not earned a degree, according to recent U.S. Census data.

Subsequently, Mountwest alone has 5,539 individuals on record who have taken some classes with the college between 2009 and 2012 but have not earned a degree or certificate and are not currently enrolled at the college.

Why is all of this important? By 2018, 49 percent of all jobs in West Virginia will require at least a two-year college degree; however, only 26 percent of West Virginians have earned these credentials (source: Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce).

In order to remain competitive and maintain our standard of living, West Virginia needs 20,000 more individuals with postsecondary credentials by 2018 than we’re currently projected to produce.

The resources are readily available. The U.S. Department of Education has estimated that nearly 1 million students who could have qualified for federal financial aid to help pay for college have missed out simply because they did not submit an application. The long-term benefits are worth the effort and sacrifices made up front.

It’s a fact – West Virginians with a college degree have more career opportunities and are far less likely to be unemployed.

Through a partnership with First State Bank, Mountwest faculty and staff will be available on campus today from 5 to 8 p.m. to answer questions and enroll students.

Individuals will be able to have their transcripts reviewed, talk to an admissions counselor, learn about financial aid options, and meet with program faculty. Individuals do not have to have started their education at Mountwest in order to finish there.

Additionally, students can complete their first two years at Mountwest and then move on to a four-year institution to obtain a bachelor’s degree, so join us on campus to explore and find the option best for you. Refreshments and childcare will be provided the evening of the event.

No matter where you are on your journey to complete your degree or when you last set foot in a college, we’re ready to equip you with the resources you need to finish what you started. You may be closer to earning a diploma than you think!

 

Billie Brooks is the dean of student services at Mountwest Community & Technical College.