Op-Ed: Kentucky, it’s time to enroll in college
By Dr. Paul Czarapata
President of Kentucky Community and Technical College System
If you’ve been thinking about going to college this fall but haven’t enrolled, it’s likely you’ve said at least one of these things:
College is too expensive.
I don’t have time.
I can’t pass college classes.
I don’t qualify for financial aid.
I don’t need college to find a good job.
The reality is, these are misperceptions. You might be surprised to know that many students attending one of the 16 colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) have flexible class schedules and are hired soon after they finish their programs. Also, many attend for free or nearly free. Here’s how they do it.
Federal Pell Grants.
Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship, which covers tuition for numerous programs.
Dual-credit scholarships for high school students.
Learn and earn programs like KY FAME and apprenticeships.
Grants and scholarships through our colleges or local civic organizations.
These are not loans, so there’s no student debt. To be eligible for most scholarships, prospective students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Every year, Americans leave money on the table by not filing a FAFSA. There are several reasons for this. One is that people don’t know about it. Also, some don’t think they qualify for aid, and some think it’s just for loans. Again, these folks are probably wrong, but they won’t know until they apply.
So, why is all of this important? It’s simple. Today’s high-wage, high-demand careers require education and training beyond high school. That doesn’t always mean a four-year degree. In many cases, KCTCS students complete programs in a few weeks and go to work.
Whether you’re interested in skilled trades, nursing or other health care careers, advanced manufacturing using technology and robotics, earning a commercial driver’s license, becoming a line worker or automotive technician, our 16 colleges can help you prepare for a career that could change your life.
If you want to earn a bachelor’s degree, consider taking your first two years at a community college. On average, Kentuckians can save $32,000 by going to a community college for the first two years of a four-year degree, and research shows community college students do as well or better than those who start college at a university.
Right now, there are a plethora of jobs in a wide range of fields available throughout Kentucky. But unless you have the training needed for these careers, you’re out of luck.
Statistics show that one year after graduation, associate degree earners have the highest employment rate in the state, surpassing the rates seen for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees earned at Kentucky’s four-year institutions. Additionally, according to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, associate degree graduates earn an additional $380,223, or 25.4%, over the course of their lifetime than do students with a high school degree or GED.
We know the only way for most Kentuckians to reach their dreams of a better life is through education. We also know people with good jobs have better health care benefits, which means a healthier population overall.
Our mission at KCTCS is to improve the lives and employability of Kentuckians and we take it very seriously. We have more than 70 locations across the state. We offer classes online and in the evening to assist those who need more flexibility in their schedules. We have scholarships and grants, food pantries, wi-fi hotspots, and many other services for students.
Kentucky, the time is now. The place is here. Get enrolled for fall classes and start working toward a better life.
Check kctcs.edu for more information or call the community college you’d like to attend. They’ll provide all the help you need.