Politicians, business leaders asking teens to consider community - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Politicians, business leaders asking teens to consider community college

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BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Many high school students often attend a four-year college because it seems like the most natural path to take after graduation.

Politicians and business leaders, however, are asking teenagers to consider another option – community college.

They have recently championed two-year institutes, saying they provide a quick route to more education and employment for students like Dianira Medina.

Medina will graduate in May from the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB).

"I'm very glad and so blessed to have come to school here because I never imagined myself coming to college," she said, "because of my family history."

She will become the first member of her family to not only attend but also graduate college.

"[My parents] are really excited," Medina said. "They're just surprised to see how far I've come."

Medina says she chose to come to UACCB over a four-year college to stay closer to home and pay a little less to further her education, like many of her classmates.

"It's a great way to save some money and prepare for that transfer or to get a great value on their education and be ready to go to work," said Brian Berry.

Berry serves as the UACCB vice chancellor for enrollment management and student services. He says the college not only prepares students to continue onto four-year colleges but also offers programs to help others land jobs.

For instance, the UACCB nursing program is its most popular, and its graduates have an almost 100 percent job placement rate.

"I think certainly with the recent downturn in the economy that students are thinking ahead and want to go into a program that they know that their prospects of getting a job are good," Berry said.

UACCB may have seen its enrollment rates level off recently after several years of record numbers, but Berry says he is beginning to see the student population skew older.

"I think there's an opportunity," he said, "as technology advances that many adult employees are going to need to come back and be returning adult students and learn technology skills and advanced manufacturing skills. I think two-year colleges across Arkansas are well prepared to meet those needs."

UACCB has certainly met Medina's needs, as she is on track to continue her education at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and become a high school counselor.

"High school students need people to talk to that can relate to them and reach out to them and actually connect," she said, "and that's just what I plan on doing."

To find out more about UACCB and its various services and programs, follow this link.

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