On Dec. 4, 2014, Salt Lake Community College President, Deneece Huftalin, traveled to Washington to experience the White House College Opportunity Day of Action.
— Deneece (@SLCCHuftalin) December 4, 2014
The assembly was held at the Ronald Reagan building to discuss the value of higher education in the United States as well as the importance of making college accessible to the middle class. The summit focused on streamlining education to help students be proficient in the 21st-century job market, reducing student debt and ultimately solving the issue of high college enrollment rates and lower college graduation rates.
“We need to make sure that students can make it all the way across the graduation stage; not with debt that limits their choices but with the skills that will prepare them for the work force,” said President Barack Obama.
The summit was highly focused on colleges offering increasingly diverse student demographic degrees that will be lucrative in the workforce immediately following graduation. While the typical university student body used to be made up almost entirely of young students recently graduated from high school, colleges are now made up of young people, single parents, working adults going back to school and students facing a host of adversities.
President Obama reminds us that higher Ed is the pathway to prosperity not just for our own kids but all kids pic.twitter.com/8zENZwL17n
— Deneece (@SLCCHuftalin) December 4, 2014
Many students graduating today are faced with excessive student loans and limited job prospects. Obama discussed four proposed solutions to increase student success before, during and after college graduation.
The first step in ensuring student success is an increased networking among colleges with focus on the completion of college degrees. The second initiative Obama spoke of is advocating college readiness by preparing and guiding students from grades K-12. New technology is being created to monitor students’ progress in their chosen major as well as their class attendance rate. Obama even suggested students receive text messages from their respective schools reminding them to go to class. Obama spoke about the fact that success in college begins long before stepping foot on a university campus, specifically in high school.
The third step suggested for higher graduation rates is to ensure that high school students have access to competent counselors who will guide them in the process of preparing for college as well as supporting student needs beyond the realm of academics.
First Lady Michelle Obama followed President Obama in speaking about her Reach Higher Initiative, which invests in high school counselors who can guide students to a successful college career.
Finally, President Obama addressed the need for an emphasis on STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and math). Many colleges are looking to support students, especially those who are low income, who are interested in pursuing an academic career in the STEM fields.
With the rising cost of a college education and an increasingly difficult job market many young people are questioning whether pursuing a college degree is a smart choice. Both community colleges and universities are working to revamp the traditional college education to cater to the demanding needs of the 21st-century student.
“Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused urban college meeting diverse needs of Salt Lake’s community. SLCC is Utah’s leading provider of workforce development programs,” said Joy Tlou, SLCC Public Relations Director.
Like many community colleges, SLCC is working to make a college education accessible for students from all walks of life. SLCC has several well developed trade programs as an alternative to the pursuit of a four year degree.
In the current economy, trade skills are often more attainable and generate more profit for working adults returning to school. SLCC is dedicated to evolving their education structure to better suit their highly diverse students.
“Through the Academic and Career Advising and Student Employment Offices, Salt Lake Community College has a number of services and recourses to promote career readiness. The college also has the Program Advisory Committees (PAC) in many programs. These PACs are comprised of leading professionals in business and industry who advise the college regarding the program structure, requirements and outcomes,” said Tlou in regards to the ways SLCC is promoting success for students post- graduation from the college.