By Steve Keenan
Even undecided high school seniors can still make plans at this stage to attend college next fall.
Students and teachers from schools in McDowell, Putnam and Fayette counties converged on Bridgemont Community & Technical College last Tuesday for a one-day campus visit to learn of some of the post-secondary possibilities which still exist for them.
The day included a tour of various academic departments and interaction with Bridgemont faculty and staff. It was designed to stress to high school seniors that it isn’t too late to apply for and attend college.
“The event was very successful and many students who hadn’t yet applied to college were able to learn about Bridgemont’s offerings and apply. We are very excited to work with Bridgemont and other community and technical colleges to engage students and educators so that they are more aware of programs and marketable careers in West Virginia,” said Jen Wood Cunningham, community relations manager for College Summit West Virginia, which sponsored the event with Bridgemont.
Bridgemont hosted two events in March for College Summit students and educators from Fayette, Raleigh, Wyoming and Putnam counties.
“Overall, we talk to the students about the various areas within the field of civil engineering technology — construction management, structures/design, environmental, surveying, hydrology/hydraulics, soils/foundations, etc.,” explained Melissa Thompson, associate professor in civil engineering technology. “At Bridgemont within all the engineering technology degrees, I explain that the professors are highly educated but also have years of experience in the field which they bring into the classroom. This is very important.
“The students were encouraged to consider a community college especially for the first year or more if they are unsure of a degree, since it is cheaper to attend community colleges and that credits will still transfer. I encourage students who like the flexibility of working either inside or outside, and who desire to stay within West Virginia and work, to consider the civil engineering technology fields. It is a growing field with a variety of opportunities in West Virginia.”
“Women are especially encouraged to consider engineering technology,” she continued. “We encourage students to get summer jobs or part-time positions in the field of their major, so they find out early if they like it, and what areas they may want to pursue.
“Overall, we tell the students to do what interests them because being happy in a career is so important.”
Salary ranges vary within the engineering technology field, Thompson stressed, and range between $30,000 and $45,000 to start, with the higher salaries going to four-year graduates.
“Two-year graduates can get jobs, but with the added two years for a four-year degree, they should expect a little higher salaries and variety of offerings. We’ve had students who have graduated from the AS degree, and also the BS degree, in civil engineering technology start at $40K to as high as $80K.”
In addition to civil engineering, other areas to which the students were exposed during the campus tour were printing technology, blastingtechnology, dental hygiene, diesel technology and welding.
College Summit is a national, nonprofit organization which helps high schools raise their college enrollment rates by providing all students with a course in postsecondary planning, training teachers and counselors to build college-ready culture, equipping the most influential students in the school to help their peers apply to college, and assisting school teachers in utilizing data to manage the school-wide postsecondary planning and college enrollment process.
The local College Summit region serves over 8,500 students in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
For more, visit www.collegesummit.org. For more on Bridgemont’s offerings, visit www.bridgemont.edu.