BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Many high school students oftenattend a four-year college because it seems like the most natural path to takeafter graduation.
Politicians and business leaders, however, are askingteenagers to consider another option – community college.
They have recently championed two-year institutes, sayingthey provide a quick route to more education and employment for students likeDianira Medina.
Medina will graduate in May from the University of ArkansasCommunity College at Batesville (UACCB).
"I'm very glad and so blessed to have come to school herebecause I never imagined myself coming to college," she said, "because of myfamily history."
She will become the first member of her family to not onlyattend but also graduate college.
"[My parents] are really excited," Medina said. "They'rejust surprised to see how far I've come."
Medina says she chose to come to UACCB over a four-yearcollege 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 thattransfer 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 enrollmentmanagement and student services. He says the college not only prepares studentsto continue onto four-year colleges but also offers programs to help othersland 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 economythat students are thinking ahead and want to go into a program that they knowthat their prospects of getting a job are good," Berry said.
UACCB may have seen its enrollment rates level off recentlyafter several years of record numbers, but Berry says he is beginning to seethe student population skew older.
"I think there's an opportunity," he said, "as technologyadvances that many adult employees are going to need to come back and bereturning adult students and learn technology skills and advanced manufacturingskills. I think two-year colleges across Arkansas are well prepared to meetthose needs."
UACCB has certainly met Medina's needs, as she is on trackto continue her education at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and becomea high school counselor.
"High school students need people to talk to that can relateto them and reach out to them and actually connect," she said, "and that's justwhat I plan on doing."
To find out more about UACCB and its various services andprograms, follow this link.