Higher education opens a window to the world, a place where young people can grow, find useful relationships and share their talents through meaningful work.
Although opportunities for vocational and technological education are growing in northwestern Michigan, college enrollment in the region has declined, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our community includes a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, making it impossible for everyone to have a unified approach to college. Students in the same class may have different levels of academic readiness and financial support from their family background.
The pandemic highlights the differences in the success of our students in school. Due to the limitation of distance learning in some regions due to problems with access to technology and additional assistance in teaching parents working at home or at high-risk frontline jobs, it is easy to see how the path to higher education for many is fraught with obstacles. students.
However, higher education – a college certificate or a four-year degree – is valuable in our region. Education provides a way to increase economic mobility by creating new jobs in high-wage areas. Employers in Benzi County and surrounding areas have a year-round need for staff in all positions, of all ages and with different backgrounds – thanks to the tourist attractiveness and natural beauty of our region.
Professional professions, especially in rural areas, require skilled workers, and a community college certificate is a great way to break into these industries. In addition, the credits you earn along the way can be aimed at earning a degree in 2 or 4 years, opening up more career opportunities. A professional trade career in Michigan pays about 39% more than the state average for all professions (Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunities). This month is recognized as Career and Technical Education Month (CTE). CTE programs provide high school and college students with real-world practical training that can be applied to career advancement.
Completing FAFSA is the best first step toward funding any post-secondary education plan. This is a free way to find out what sources of funding may be available to help anyone further their higher education. It can connect a student with a federal Pell Grant – free non-refundable college money – as well as scholarships, loans and work and study programs. Completion of the FAFSA could pave the way for funding for students – including those who may have thought education was not available.
In addition to the FAFSA, when students plan which colleges and universities to apply to, they must apply for an exemption from the application and seek scholarships and grants specific to the program of study and the institution in which they are interested. Many universities have programs that can help low-income students attend schools they deemed financially impossible. For those who may not know where to start, I recommend visiting the Virtual College Access Assistant MCAN (CAVA) for information on the entire college.
Regardless of your educational or socioeconomic background, there is always support and potential for a bright future. Education is a gift not only to ourselves, but also to our community and the world around us.
About the author: John Melcher is the CEO of Crystal Mountain. He is part of the best team in the Benzia County leadership.
About the Author: John Melcher is the CEO of Crystal Mountain. He is part of the best team in the Benzia County leadership.