PIQUA — Feeling “impressed” and needing another look, Chancellor John Carey of the Ohio Department of Higher Education visited Edison State Community College on Thursday to learn more about Edison’s use of career counseling.
“We do the best that we can to make sure that our students come in with a plan,” Larson said.
Carey’s visit followed his recent visit in December, when he met with Edison President Dr. Doreen Larson, welcomed her to the helm of college, and heard about the workforce partnerships happening with Edison.
Thursday’s visit began with a tour, followed by a roundtable discussion. During the discussion, four students took the opportunity to speak about their experiences at Edison and how the school has impacted their careers and lives, explaining how Edison helped them find the right path and stay on that path.
“I came here, and they pretty much brought me in instantly,” student Malik Thurman said, mentioning that he was recruited to come to Edison and is a basketball player at the school. “Being a student athlete can sometimes be extra hard with practice and games … So our coach and our athletic director definitely stayed on us about our grades, and I’m able to have a 3.0 GPA right now while I play basketball. And it’s definitely helped me be eligible for a transfer scholarship.”
“I’m a returning adult student, this is probably my third time coming to Edison,” student Jason Evans said. Evans came to Edison right out of high school, a couple times in his 20s, and again in his 30s. He said that once he reached his 30s, he decided, “We’re going to do this and get it done.”
Evans came back in 2012 and left a job he had held for nine years to pursue his next step forward with Edison. After approximately two years at Edison as a student, Evans now works as the Information Technology Help Desk supervisor at Edison and is continuing to work on obtaining his bachelor’s degree.
“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” Evans said.
“I came here to Edison because I had a life change and I’ve been out of the workforce for more than 25 years,” student Susie Barhorst said. “I just fought it tooth and nail … I thought, as an older student, I don’t want to do this. But having some jobs that just paid a little bit more than minimum wage, I realized I couldn’t afford anything in the way of a retirement or anything else.”
Barhorst explained that she came to Edison and completed the Holland Career Assessment Form in order to help figure out in which direction she wanted to go.
“That is what propelled me to the OSA Administration Assistant Degree,” said Barhorst, who now works as an academic project specialist in the nursing department at Edison.
“I actually went to two other academic institutions in Ohio,” student Brittany Tacket said. “I earned a bachelor’s degree in Bowling Green, and I really had no clue what I wanted to do with my life after I graduated. And there was a lot of time where I struggled with that.”
Tacket said she then felt the call to become a nurse, explaining that from the beginning of her experience with Edison, she received “warming support and encouragement.”
Guidance counselors and other school administrators from area high schools, including the Upper Valley Career Center, then took the time to discuss how Edison has helped their own students to prepare for college through programs like College Credit Plus.
“I feel like our role has been to teach them how to advocate,” guidance counselor Becky Curtis of Greenville High School said. Curtis explained that the guidance counselors at Greenville meet with each student to provide individual academic advising, which involves helping them take the right credits in the College Credit Plus program that apply to them and their goals.
“We almost exclusively work with Edison,” guidance counselor Evan Jackson of Sidney High School said. “It’s been a pretty flawless transition.” Jackson explained that Sidney High School has approximately 20 different College Credit Plus classes and also holds a College Credit Plus night to engage students and get them ready for college.
“Those are really heavily attended,” Jackson said.
“The partnership has been great for us,” Michael Moore, curriculum director at Troy High School, said, commenting on the College Credit Plus program. On a side note, Moore stated that he had a sister who attended Edison and he was able to see firsthand how Edison “changes lives.”
“We just appreciate the relationship,” Moore said. “You’re right in our backyard.”
“It’s student-focused,” Jason Haak, principal of Upper Valley Career Center, said about their working relationship with Edison. Haak explained that he is seeing “relationships starting to grow” with other programs like the Health Education Programs and that he is seeing less duplication of services.
“We don’t need to compete against each other,” Haak said. “We’ve been able to bridge that gap … We’re providing more opportunities for less money.”
Carey then took an opportunity to speak, discussing how Edison’s College Credit Plus program and other career counseling methods have stuck with him and his staff.
“We’re so impressed … We used it to inspire some of our policies,” Carey said, mentioning House Bill 474. “You’ve proven that you’re putting students first.”
Carey went on to say, “There’s a lot of talk about College Credit Plus.” He added that “it’s important for you to talk to your legislators … about the success of College Credit Plus.”
Carey said that they need to make sure that students who are ready continue having access to College Credit Plus classes and programs.
“One of the things the governor is really passionate about is giving college students the opportunities for lower cost pathways and get the right counseling and the right guidance,” Carey said. “In this world today, we need students to have that career counseling. We’re seeing that happen here at Edison … As we learned about this in December, it fits perfectly with the governor’s objective.”
Carey mentioned that one of the ways students incur debt is by going to college without a plan. Some of those students then either spend more time in college trying to figure out what career path they want to take or they drop out and cannot afford to pay back their student loans. That is something that Carey and his department want to help students avoid.
“You’re doing great things here, that’s the message,” Carey said. “We’ll continue to call upon you for your expertise.”
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall