Community Colleges: Bridges to the Future
Last week, I continued my Community College to Career tour at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. I met some inspiring students who illustrate how Valencia is preparing students for their futures – whether going directly into the workplace or moving on to a four-year college to earn a baccalaureate degree.
Businesses in Orlando have been working with Valencia for years to ensure the college is teaching students relevant skills they need to stay current in the workplace as technology changes. And, they couldn’t be more satisfied with the quality of workers trained at Valencia.
An administrator from an Orlando hospital that has been hiring Valencia students for years told me that the health care field is “so much more than pushing buttons,” and that new hires need critical thinking and relationship skills to succeed as health care workers. That is exactly what he gets when he hires Valencia graduates. The hospital is working closely with the college to make sure they know what skills the hospital needs, but the Administrator, describing the Valencia students he hires, told me “what we get in return is so much more than we could ever give.”
Valencia meets students exactly where they are – and gets them where they want to be. The college works closely with the University of Central Florida through its DirectConnect partnership program, a pathway that provides a smooth transition for students who want to earn a baccalaureate degree. When they arrived at Valencia, students know right away what they need to do to be prepared when they arrive at UCF after earning their Associate’s degree. If a student earns an associate’s degree from Valencia, he or shill will not be turned away by UCF. I can’t think of a stronger vote of confidence in a community college’s ability to prepare students for success.
As a community college teacher for more than 18 years, I’ve seen countless examples of community colleges helping students create a better future for themselves. The students I met at Valencia College are making their dreams come true – one class at a time.