College more than 'just a transfer school'

Great jobs are available. Prepare for them close to home, at Jackson College.

Jackson College offers a variety of educational opportunities. While some may recognize it as a good start toward a four-year bachelor’s degree with the opportunity for transfer to a university, it is much more than “just a transfer school.”

“One of the things that makes a community college so exciting is that we offer two-year degrees that are career-track, meaning they lead to jobs immediately,” said Jeremy Frew, vice president of student services. “These are full-time jobs, with benefits.”

Career programs may be completed in many health care related careers like: emergency medical services, health administration, medical assisting, medical insurance coder/biller, nursing, sonography, pharmacy technician, radiography and respiratory care. Health care is a growing field, and most careers offer licensure or certification, which can help guarantee employment for successful students. In addition, Jackson College offers programs in advanced manufacturing, accounting, agriculture, automotive, aviation, business, computer technology, corrections, culinary arts, cyber security, electrician, electronic technology, energy systems, environmental science, executive assistant, graphic design, 3D design and animation, law enforcement and sports management.

In the past, workers could enter some of these fields with just a high school diploma, but that is changing. Most require some postsecondary education – but again, not a full four-year degree.

Careers in Demand

“The job market right now is just incredible,” said Todd Butler, dean of arts and sciences. “I am amazed at the number of employers who are looking for skilled workers. When I’m speaking to young people, I’m constantly talking about career and technical education. Employers are searching for skilled trades people.”

Skilled trades programs require less school and therefore will incur less debt than a four-year degree. However, they do not always draw the interest from students. “Employers are knocking on our door, saying ‘we need help – we can’t grow our business.’ They are desperately seeking qualified, skilled workers,” Butler said.

Jackson College can be nimble in responding to workforce demands and quickly put new programs in place. “A big part of what we do is connecting with employers in the area to
meet their hiring needs,” said Kate Thirolf, Vice President for Instruction. Local business and community leaders serve on advisory committees. These connections offer
valuable insights into the demands of the workplace. Local demand and urging prompted the creation of the College’s new agriculture technology program. Other recent programs
include sports management, cyber security, and both associate and bachelor’s degrees programs in energy systems as well as culinary arts and hospitality.

Valuable Experience

New this year, students in all career fields will be required to complete a work-based learning experience – an internship in their program. Students will have the opportunity
to learn and complete an associate degree, and will graduate with real experience in the field. “That is a huge benefit for our students, to graduate with actual experience in their
field,” Thirolf said.

“Our programs also offer highly qualified faculty with experience in the field. Many of them even attended here,” said Kristin Spencer, allied health department chair. “We also offer many program accreditations, which can help the student to sit for exams and become certified or licensed.”

Jackson College offers convenience and affordability, which makes finding a great career field a definite possibility for anyone. Lifelong learning is important as the workforce changes, and Jackson College can meet those needs, too. Workers who need to upgrade skills for new responsibilities or a new promotion can enroll.

Butler will travel to China soon to meet with students who are interested in enrolling in energy systems, manufacturing and electronics. “They understand the value these degree programs,” he said.