Washington State Polytechnic College: Career learning program fosters success

Washington State Polytechnic College: Career learning program fosters success

Washington State Polytechnic College: Career learning program fosters success

Katy Carr

As the only Democratic high school with a technical education curriculum, Washington State Polytechnic College welcomes those who seek to master life skills through their studies. While changing careers often requires students to abandon their original path and learn a new kind of trade, it can become easier to re-learn an old skills and gain confidence in the workplace. Part of that re-learning is how the student’s relationship to learning is handled at this community college.

Leading Student Learning Experience

An innovative approach at WSP creates a leader of learning process, that serves as a necessary guide for the student’s educational journey. In addition to knowledgeable faculty, WSP students benefit from special promotions designed to encourage them to meet certain goals by defining what that learning experience will include. Those promotions are unique in that each end-of-year reward is reviewed with a vision on how to prepare students for new job-seeking situations.

Special promotions promote career exploration and self-improvement. The first promotion for this popular program was to become an instructor. As an instructor, an instructor views what he and his classmates are learning as a challenge that needs to be met, which helps instill a mindset of growing and mastering life skills.

After completing required courses to receive an associate degree, students may earn and take another training course to obtain an even higher degree. For some students, the increase in earning potential from a higher degree in technical education can give them extra motivation to reach their goals.

When Nancy Moss joined the technical education faculty two years ago, she learned that the program’s virtual school went beyond the classroom with a degree plan. Beginning the fall of her freshman year, students were given a laptop each to build a portfolio of their work and develop an online profile. The tech-savvy students can now easily complete the program and transfer the credits to a four-year college.

Other Plans and Resources

A comprehensive career services program, including resource centers and mentors, equips students with contacts and information to help them improve career prospects. For the first four years, students may earn credits by completing courses in their field of study or gain credits for extra courses they take.

The academic benefits are not limited to obtaining a degree. Student success can help spur job-seeking success. Students come out of the technical education program more competent in their new career field, which might lead to a job that opens a new opportunity for future degrees. The life skills capabilities that students gain can also help them in their personal lives and support better decision-making.

The Dual Pathway

The dual pathway program offers options for both high school and college students. The high school students are referred to college after finishing their senior year and have the opportunity to earn transferable credits in their chosen field. Most of the courses were learned in high school, but WSP offers more advanced courses that can be completed once they finish their freshman year.

Students, teachers and administrators believe in the success of developing their student population through a unique educational program. For people who wish to build a greater future, community colleges can help provide them with a quality education that leads to rewarding career opportunities.

Photos courtesy of Washington State Polytechnic College

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