– By Arthur Northrop –
The average cost of in-state college tuition and room and board is $73,572 and the average student debt for a four year degree is$26,500. (Forbes) U.S. News and World Report recently published the “Top 100” jobs in America. Ninety-eight percent of the jobs listed require education or certification past a high school diploma. Annually almost ninety percent of ninth graders state they intend to obtain a four year college degree while the percentage of Americans who actually have a four year degree has dropped to twenty-six percent.
Over the next few weeks, this series of articles will describe the programs and opportunities for training and certifications available for our county’s youth at Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center (STCTC). Considering the previous stated figures and statistics, it is important for students and parents to be aware of their options and the opportunities that STCTC provides.
As parents, we want the best for our children. We want them to become well-rounded productive contributing members of society. Developing academic, athletic, and artistic skills is critical. Ultimately for those skills and knowledge to have a long term positive impact, people need to be gainfully employed in careers that provide the opportunity to apply what they have learned.
Young people entering the workforce today must have the knowledge and skills employers need and the credentials to prove it. The STCTC presently has eight programs to prepare young people for employment. The programs at STCTC include Cosmetology, PLTW (Engineering), Agribusiness, Welding Technology, Building Construction, Automotive Technology, Health Sciences, and Business Management Administration. These programs provide students the opportunities to obtain certifications and licenses that lead directly to employment.
The STCTC is not the end of students’ educational journeys; it is only the first step in their career path. In addition to pursuing employment by obtaining a four year college degree, students have the opportunity to continue their educations at a two year technical college. Students can attend a technical college and either specialize in career training or obtain a two-year associates degree which will transfer to any state university in South Carolina. Both of these viable options are significantly less expensive than attending a four year college.
The training and certifications students obtain at STCTC empower them to earn money while continuing their educations after high school. The skills they learn at STCTC will reduce their need to borrow money while attending college. Students who obtain specific training or certifications in a field that is in demand in our economy are not limiting their options; they are opening economic doors for themselves. A reality that parents must face is that our students must be emotionally and mentally prepared to leave this area for a period of time for both their education and their future employment.
Evidence exists that education, training, and certifications lead to higher incomes, improved health, and diminished reliance on government programs. Preparing the youth of Edgefield County for successful employment is a primary mission of the Strom Thurmond Career and Technology Center. The faculty and staff are focused on that mission. We understand that once young people embark on productive career paths, they will continue to build upon the experiences of our public schools, our communities, our churches, and most importantly our families.