High School Students at CGTC’s Senior Day Consider Technical Education the Financially Responsible Route
Macon, Ga. – The first of Central Georgia Technical College’s (CGTC) three Senior Day campus visits for area high school students took place in February on the Macon campus, with nearly 400 students in attendance, but it was a duo from Central High School who made the best of the day in the most practical, non-millennial way possible.
“They don’t think about debt,” said Romantez Mitchell, on his peers’ college plans compared to his own. “When I say I am going to a trade school, they look at me like it’s a bad move.”Mitchell and his close friend, Anthony Hollingsworth admitted to a frustration they have with peers who recite an adage that going away for a four-year degree is the superior route and staying in your hometown to continue your education is an inferior substitute.
Senior students from Central High School arrive at CGTC’s Senior Day.
Going away is to them, both young African-American men on the brink of adulthood, unthinkable; they can’t wrap their heads around “throwing away money” pursuing a degree that might land them without work.
“We never really considered it,” Hollingsworth said. “I never wanted to stay on a campus or waste money. People are leaving Georgia and going into debt.”
Being debt-free is a tangible possibility they see in the technical college route, something those closest to them have rarely experienced. At $89 per credit hour, and a ranking of 5th in the nation among two-year institutions for awarding one-year certificates and 1st in doing so for African American students, the value of a degree at CGTC is simply what they view as responsible.
“Here,” Mitchell said, of CGTC. “You aren’t guaranteed a job but you are likely to get a job.”
He’s right. CGTC students do find jobs.
“Our students are so successful at gaining employment because employers come to us as a recruiting source when hiring,” said Desna Toliver, the assistant director for Career Services at the College. “In addition, CGTC offers certificate, diploma and degree programs that align well with careers that are available in our service areas. Employers seek our students prior to graduation.”
For fiscal year 2016, the placement rate was 98 percent for the entire College. Toliver said Career Services maintains a job database so students can seek employment throughout their time at CGTC. Since July 2016, they have added 276 employers to the database.
Mitchell and Hollingsworth have heard jobs are available and want to be a part of rebuilding the economics of their community. They also said they hear and see the changes of a society that is desperate for workers, but not just any workers; a worker who can create the life they want and not be an image of something projected on them.
In a world of never-ending filters, these young men have decided to be original.
During Senior Day, both learned how exactly they can put a distinct and specific CGTC degree to work. That morning they chose blue lanyards from the Student Affairs staff which meant they wanted to learn more about the Aerospace, Trade, and Industry (ATI) programs at CGTC. Their decision was made without any hesitation, compared to many of their peers who went back and forth on the color and degree spectrum.
Mitchell and Hollingsworth choose blue lanyards at the beginning of Senior Day signifying they want to learn more about Aerospace, Industry and Trade programs.
Mitchell took shop and automotive classes at Central High and is leaning toward Automotive Technology or Welding, so with a quick grab of the lanyard he was off to the auditorium. Hollingsworth is interested in several of these fields and followed right behind him.
After a presentation from staff and a guest speaker, lanyard-laden teens split to their respective disciplines.
The ATI group gathered outside of the H-building and their designated student guide stood looking at the growing horde he would have to wrangle into tight corridors and machinery-loaded workspaces. As they marched, some may have wandered from the front of the pack, but not Mitchell and Hollingsworth.
Both young men were the two-headed monster on a corpus of curiosity. Together they led a mass of teenagers who conquered the brown and terra-cotta brick landscape and endless waves of machinery in classrooms from Automotive Technology to Welding, and Construction Management to Air Conditioning Technology on the Macon campus in under an hour.
They devoured knowledge as it came to them, they peered over wires, steel, wood, and tools. They got their feet wet and their Jordan’s covered in sawdust, yet they still scavenged for more. Time after time both these young men led the way in asking questions, finding answers and inquiring about job prospects. They were the first to enter a classroom and the last to leave.
And, they were given much to consider.
During the tour of Air Conditioning Technology, Mitchell and Hollingsworth, pictured center, learn about the demand in the industry for jobs.
Speaking on the program, instructor of Air Conditioning Technology, Lonnie Cook told them that if they wanted a hands-on career or a 120 to 220-volt shock they were in the right place.
At another stop in the Construction Management workshop, Brad Jamison, program chair for Carpentry, Cabinetmaking and Construction Management, was explaining a new table saw technology called SawStop, a phalangelical savior of sorts which has a patented braking system that automatically stops itself when it detects a finger on the blade.
“Would you like to see it run?” Jamison asked.
“Yeah, sure,” several in the group replied. After a two second pause, Jamison responded.
“I’m going to need your finger.”
Humor aside, the instructors did relay the message that hands-on, finger-safe education, within their programs, deliver on degrees that lead to jobs.
Brad Jamison, program chair for Carpentry, Cabinetmaking and Construction Management, explaind the SawStop technology.
The in-field placement rates – the percentage of graduates likely to land a job in their field - for Automotive, Construction Management, Welding, Air Conditioning Technology, and Aviation Maintenance programs at CGTC are all above 96 percent.
Romantez Mitchell and Anthony Hollingsworth are on the way to defining their own image of success and determining how they can get work for themselves.
“Success for me is defined by being successful despite what people say,” Mitchell said. “I’m not concerned about getting out of Macon. The job opportunities are where I am.”
CGTC’s Senior Day, an annual event open to all area high school seniors, aims to make students aware of the programs and services offered at the College. During the event, students learn detailed information about the College’s admission process, course offerings, and financial aid opportunities, as well as tour the campus and program areas to gain a better perspective of campus life at CGTC.
In addition to campus tours, students hear from CGTC administrators, program coordinators and motivational speakers on how to make their college experience at CGTC successful.
At the first Senior Day event, CGTC hosted high school students from Crawford County, Rutland, Northeast, Howard, Westside, Central, Southwest, and Mary Persons. CGTC welcomed its largest attendance on record.
The College will host two additional Senior Day events on the Warner Robins and Milledgeville campuses on March 3 and March 10 respectively, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Senior Day events will also feature the roll-out of a new micro website designed to meet the specific inquiries of high school graduates who intend to apply to CGTC. The site is compiled into a few simple and navigable tabs ranging from financial aid and the application process to campus life and how to connect with the college on social media.
On social media with the hashtag, #FutureTitans, students can easily see how they fit into Central Georgia Technical College.
For more information, please contact Kimberly Gunn, CGTC’s high school coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (478) 218-3236.
Romantez Mitchell and Anthony Hollingsworth, two soon-to-be graduates of Central High School, take an Instagram-style photo in a booth at Senior Day. Both hope to become #FutureTitans.
|Submitted by JoBen Rivera-Thompson
March 2, 2017
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