"Workforce Education at Green River was VERY instrumental in allowing me to go back to school, and I'm grateful for all the assistance I received and continue to receive." - Genie L, Green River Student

"Make sure you talk to Workforce Education...They can help in many ways to make things go smoothly and make sense." - Chris S, Green River Student

"Workforce Education...will embrace you and lend a helping hand with open hearts." Elsie Q, Green River Student

"Workforce Education has been there for me since day one!" - Jenny S, Green River student

Nov 3, 2010

Washington State Scholarships

Workforce Education administers four funding programs which help qualifying students earn a job training degree or certificate.  These funding programs include Worker Retraining, Opportunity Grant, Basic Food Employment & Training, and WorkFirst. 

When students apply for our funding, we also help them identify and apply for additional pots of money as part of a larger strategy to leverage resources.  For example, when a student expresses interest in Worker Retraining, we also have that student apply for Federal Financial Aid.  Why?  Because a pot of money like Federal Financial Aid can typically provide more financial support than a local program like Worker Retraining can.  Moving a student onto Federal Financial Aid also allows Workforce Education to preserve its funding - in this example, Worker Retraining - for other students who, for some reason or another, do not qualify for Federal Financial Aid.  It's a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

In addition to Federal Financial Aid, we also encourage students to apply for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding, WAVE scholarships, the Quality Through Training Program (QTTP), Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), as well as Foundation Scholarships offered at Green River Community College.

In a nutshell, our philosophy in Workforce Education is simple - create options by applying for as many different funding programs as possible. 

A final source of funding we regularly encourage new students to look into is a free, web-based scholarship clearinghouse for Washington State scholarship seekers called TheWashBoard.org.  This scholarship clearinghouse adds new scholarships every week, and it allows users to create an online profile, then find scholarships within the system that "match" the information provided in that profile.

The site is secure and recently went through and intensive enhancement phase to improve accessibility and ease of use.  What's more, according to a recent Seattle Times article, there are scholarships at the site that go unclaimed for lack of applicants. If you haven't already, visit the site to set up a free online profile today!

Oct 28, 2010


There's a new addition to the Green River campus: HireWorks

HireWorks is the college's new Job Search Training & Resource Center.  The Center opened its doors on October 20th and is located in the LSC Building on the Auburn main campus.  It serves students and alumni who need help planning, preparing, and conducting a successful job search. 

The HireWorks Job Search Training & Resources Center can help with:
  • Creating winning resumes and cover letters
  • Developing effective interviewing skills
  • Researching the labor market and potential employers
  • Finding job and internship opportunities
While HireWorks is not a job placement service, it does aim to help clients plan, prepare, and conduct a successful job search.  In addition, the Center can provide assistance to people with disabilities and to those who face unique employment situations.

For more information, visit the HireWorks webpage.

Oct 20, 2010

Career Development Tips From Johnny Bunko

Daniel Pink's Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need is a slim graphic novel (i.e. print comic book) on career development.  As opposed to a more conventional textbook approach to the subject, Pink uses the vehicle of story to highlight a variety of useful career development lessons.  This results in a fun, easy, informative read. 

Pink's novel focuses on Johnny Bunko, a young college grad in a dead-end job who's hungry for more.  He hates his job, his boss, and his all-around station in life.  Discouraged and in a rut, Johnny happens upon a magical sushi shop, where he orders takeout and grabs a handful of chopsticks.  He learns that every time he snaps a pair of these chopsticks in half, a spritely genie named Diana appears (she fills the role of career counselor in the story). 

With each magical appearance, Diana shares an important career development lesson with Johnny, allthewhile leading Johnny, step by step, on the path to a more rewarding career and a happier life.  Those principles include the following, along with quotations from Diana, the novel's career counseling genie:

Lesson 1:  There is no plan.
"You can't sit there at age 21 - or even 31 or 41 or 51 - and map it all out. You might think that X will lead to Y, and Y will lead to Z, but it never works that way. It's nice to believe that you can map out every step ahead of time and end up where you want. But that's a fantasy. The world changes. Ten years from now, your job might be in India. Your industry might not even exist. And you'll change, too."
Lesson 2:  Think strengths, not weaknesses.
"The key to success is to steer around your weaknesses and focus on your strengths. Successful people don't try too hard to improve what they're bad at. They capitalize on what they're good at. What do you do consistently well? What gives you energy rather than drains it? What sorts of activities create flow for you?"
Lesson 3:  It's not about you.
"It's about your customer. It's about your client. Use your strengths, yes, but remember you're here to serve - not to self-actualize. The most successful people don't focus on improving their own lives but improving others' lives. They help their customer solve its problem. They give their client something it didn't know it was missing. That's where they focus their energy, talent, and brainpower. So pull your head out of your...ego."
Lesson 4:  Persistence trumps talent.
"There are massive returns to doggedness. The people who achieve the most are often the ones who stick with it when others don't. [Persistence] builds upon itself. A little bit improves performance, which encourages greater persistence, which improves performance even more. And on and on it goes."
Lesson 5:  Make excellent mistakes.
"Too many people spend their time avoiding mistakes. They're so concerned about being wrong, about messing up, that they never try anything - which means they never do anything. Their focus is avoiding failure. But that's actually a crummy way to achieve success. The most successful people make spectacular mistakes. Why? They're trying to do something big. But each time they make a mistake, they get a little better and move a little closer to excellence."
Lesson 6:  Leave an imprint.
"Think about your purpose, recognize that your life isn't infinite, and that you should use your limited time here to do something that matters. The other five lessons are crucial. But truly successful people deploy them in the service of something larger than themselves. They leave their companies, their communities, their families a little better than before."

Sep 29, 2010

Tutoring Resources

Now that the fall quarter is underway, you might be starting to feel the weight (and stress?) of attending class, doing homework, writing papers, and attending study groups. Maybe the work's piling up.  Maybe you're falling behind.  Maybe you need additional help to be successful.  If so, today's blog post is just for you.  Specifically, let's briefly talk about three different free tutoring resources available on the main campus at Green River Community College. 

1.  The Writing Center.  The Writing Center is located in RLC 173, and offers both one-on-one and online tutoring services for students at all stages in the writing process.  Check the Writing Center website for hours of operation and for a more detailed explanation of available services.

2.  The Math Learning Center.  The Math Learning Center is located in SMT 335, and offers help to those who are struggling with math.  In addition to tutoring services, students can also access a variety of free learning resources including math videos, computers, and textbooks.  Check the Math Learning Center website for hours of operation. 

3.  The Tutoring & Resouce Center.  The Tutoring & Resource Center is located on the second floor of Holman Library, and offers tutoring in all subjects except math.   Services are available by appointment or on a walk-in basis.  Check the Tutoring & Resource Center website for hours of operation.

Sep 15, 2010

Mind Your Study Habits

In a recent article entitled "Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits," Benedict Carey discusses good study habits.  Specifically, he outlines a handful of effective learning approaches that may improve how much a student learns from studying, and he also cites a variety of cognitive scientists to back up his claims. Some of the approaches outlined by Carey, interestingly enough, contradict conventional wisdom on the subject of retention. 

As a way to kick off the start of the fall quarter at Green River Community College, and in the interest of stimulating more productive study habits, this post will briefly address three of Carey's findings.  Also note, the three study habits discussed below can help anyone, from a fifth grader doing long division to a retiree learning a new language, at least according to Carey.  So let's get started.

Study Habit #1 - Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room or location where a person studies can improve retention.  This contradicts the conventional practice of finding a specific place - a study room or a quiet corner in the library, for example - and plopping down for hours on end to do school work.  The research on study habits, says Carey, shows that switching up the locale in which one studies can dramatically improve retention.  As Carey writes,
"The brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time...regardless of whether those perceptions are conscious.  It colors the terms of the Versailles Treaty with the wasted fluorescent glow of the dorm study room, say; or the elements of the Marshall Plan with the jade-curtain shade of the willow tree in the backyard.  Forcing the brain to make multiple associations with the same material may, in effect, give that information more neural scaffolding."
Study Habit #2 - Spacing out the study of a specific skill or concept, as opposed to cramming / intense immersion, can also improve retention. The spacing approach to studying favors shorter, more frequent study sessions and goes against the common practice of cramming, say, Math, English, Anatomy, or whatever for 8 hours on a Tuesday and then ignoring the subject until next week.  As Carey observes,
"Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a give exam. But hurriedly jam-packing the brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn - it holds its new load for awhile, then most everything falls out....When the neural suitcase is packed carefully and gradually, it holds its contents for far far longer.  An hour of study tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session a week from now: such so-called spacing improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort."
Study Habit #3 - Studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing, can also improve retention.  This habit, again, contradicts the common practice of studying one, and only one, subject for long stretches of time and then moving on to the next.  Interweaving different subjects allows the brain to pick up on a deeper patterns and leads to more nuanced understandings of a given subject.  As Carey observes,
"Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting - alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading. and speaking a new language - seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time.  Musicians have known this for years, and their practice sessions often include a mix of scales, musical pieces, and rhythmic work. Many athletes, too, routinely mix their workouts with strength, speed, and skill drills."
In sum, change up the locale in which you study. Also, avoid cramming and space out your study of a given subject.  Finally, try interweaving and studying different but related subjects in one sitting. Cognitive science argues that these habits may lead to improved retention and increased academic success. Give them a test drive, see what happens, and make it a great fall quarter!

Sep 2, 2010

Make Career Development Pay

In turbulent economic times like these, attending a community or technical college to update a skill set or retrain for a new occupation is a logical course of action to pursue.  But the decision to go to school, according to a recent New York Times article by Tara Siegel Bernard, needs to be treated like any other investment decision. You need to weigh the potential returns and closely manage the costs.

When considering an "investment" in education and especially before enrolling in a training program, Bernard argues that you should ask the same sorts of questions that a portfolio manager might ask when analyzing a stock investment, including: 
  • Am I earning a reputable credential, degree, or certificate?
  • Is the cost of earning that credential feasable?
  • How can I minimize my expenses?
  • What is demand like in the field I'm retraining for?
  • What are my earnings potential?
As Bernard goes on to observe in her article, the more radical the shift in careers you contemplate, the more research you should do in answering these questions.  This is an obvious but important point to make. She therefore proceeds to offer the following tips for those who are considering a change in careers.

Research Career Options.  Bernard recommends O*NET OnLine, which is a website maintained by the Department Of Labor and which allows users to research employment opportunities and salary information for different professions.  Washington State residents can also cross-reference O*NET findings with www.wilma/org/wdclists, which is a website that allows users to reseach employment and salary information on jobs across the state.

Seek Employer Aid. If you have a job, writes Bernard, ask your employer about available tuition-assistance programs.

Ask For Government Help.  Bernard correctly points out that people collecting Unemployment Insurance may be eligible to collect benefits while going to school and even to receive additional benefits after their regular unemployment claim has run out. This is true in Washington State.  The Employment Sercurities Department offers the Training Benefits Program to unemployed workers who are in need of retraining. For more information, check out our ealier blog post entitled "Let's Talk Training Benefits."

Apply For Grants.  A no-brainer.  Before you borrow money, cautions Bernard, search for grants and scholarships to help you pay for school ("grant" = gift aid = money you don't have to pay back).  For potential Green River students interested in job (re)training, significant funding streams may include Worker Retraining, Opportunity Grant, Basic Food Employment & Training, WorkFirst, Federal Financial Aid, GRCC Foundation Scholarships, Workforce Investment Act Funding, WAVE scholarships, as well as scholarships advertised on http://www.thewashboard.org/.  

Investigate Tax Breaks.  Bernard also highlights the fact that the Lifetime Learning Credit, which is geared for continuing education, can be used for an unlimited number of years and for a wide range of schooling.

Aug 26, 2010

Green River On Washington Monthly's List of Top 50 Colleges

Washington Monthly, founded in 1969, is a well-known magazine based in the nation's capitol.  Recently, the magazine ran an article entitled, "America's Best Community Colleges."  In a nutshell, the article, as evidenced by its title, offers a list of the top 50 community colleges in the nation.

To create this list, Washington Monthly "graded" colleges in six different areas including: Active and Collaborative Learning, Student Effort, Academic Challenge, Student-Faculty Interaction, Support for Learning, and 4-Year Graduation Rate. 

After crunching the numbers and assessing community colleges nationwide using this 6-part rubric, Washington Monthly ranked Green River Community College number 29 out of a possible 50

Another reason to become a Gator.

Aug 12, 2010

Popular Healthcare Programs

Here in Workforce Education, we meet a lot of students who are interested in healthcare-related training programs at Green River Community College. And for good reason - the employment outlook for jobs in healthcare is excellent. 

Three healthcare-related training programs in particular are especially attractive to new students.  They include the:
  • Practical Nursing Program (LPN),
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant Program (OTA) and
  • Physical Therapist Assistant Program (PTA). 
According to www.wilma.org/wdclists, all three pathways of employment - licensed practical nurse, occupational therapy assistant, and physical therapist assistant - are classified as "demand" occupations in Washington State, with mean (or average) yearly wages of $44,796, $53,614, and $49,049 respectively.

The students we meet with in Workforce Education who are interested in any one of these three training programs frequently ask, "How do I get started?"  It's a good question, and this post intends to answer it succinctly in three parts.

One, if you're interested in enrolling in either the LPN, OTA, or PTA program, do a little bit of homework by reading a detailed breakdown of each training program.  You can find these breakdowns on www.greenriver.edu/ (or you can click here for a shortcut). 

Two, you may want to consider taking a career assessment and speaking with a counselor at the college to determine whether your interests and strengths align with the rigors of healthcare-related occupations.  For more information on available career assessments at Green River, see our earlier blog post on the subject.

Three, attend an information session (or "info session," for short) at the college to learn even more about the specific entry requirements for each training program.  Green River offers three different types of info session - one for each training program - on a regular basis and they are facilitated by eminently qualified ed planners.  Interested in LPN? Click here to sign up for the next available info session.  Or OTA? click here.  Or PTA? click here

There you have it.  Do some homework, take a career assessment, and attend an info session at the college. Three simple steps you can take to investigate three popular training programs at Green River Community College.  Good luck!

Jul 14, 2010

Is E-Learning For You?

(adapted from greenriver.edu)

Today's post is about e-learning.  What's e-learning?  In simple terms, the phrase denotes the use of electronic formats to conduct learning.  In even simpler terms, e-learning means online classes

Green River Community College offers a wide variety of online classes in both university transfer and professional technical pathways.  This is a good thing.  Online classes provide a convenient alternative to the traditional classroom experience, especially for students who are home-bound due to injury, the raising of children, or care of a family member; place-bound due to living far away from their college campus; or job-bound due to working rotating or sporadic job schedules.  Online classes also provide a convenient alternative for students with disabilities or for students who simply prefer learning from the comfort of their own home.

While online classes provide a convenient alternative to the traditional classroom experience, and while they are becoming a more permanent fixture in the two-year college system, they also imply a certain type of learner who already has the skills needed to succeed in an electronic learning environment.  Not everyone, in other words, is cut out for online classes, at least not right away.  So today, let's briefly talk about what makes a good online, or e-learning, student.

First off, students who typically succeed in online formats are self-starters who:
  • Are highly motivated
  • Have a capacity for self-guided learning
  • Have good time management skills
  • Take responsbility for learning outcomes
  • Take the initiative to contact an instructor with questions
In addition, successful e-learning students possess a key set of skills going into the class.  Specifically, they already know how to:
  • Use the Internet
  • Use a search engine
  • Send and receive email with attachments
  • Use word processing applications
  • Use a chat room
Finally, Green River recommends that before taking onlines classes, students should first score five points or more above the qualifying minimum for transfer classes on the COMPASS assessment.  That is, students who take the COMPASS English and Math assessment should have higher than the lowest possible qualifying score before signing up for online classes.  If those COMPASS scores are only at the qualifying minimum (and not at least 5 points above), you may want to start with traditional classroom courses to build up your English and Math skills before making the transition to online classes.

Oh, and one last thing.  If you decide to take an online class, make sure you have a back-up plan in case your primary computer crashes, malfunctions, or is stolen.  It happens.  Identify a second computer you can use to complete the online class in the event something like this happens, be it a computer at a friend or relative's home, or a computer at a county or college library.

To recap, e-learning might be good fit for you if you're a self-starter, if you have a key set of computer skills up front, if you score above the qualifying minimum on the COMPASS, if you have a back-up plan, and, of course, if you like completing work on your computer.

Jun 23, 2010

Washington Jobs Requiring Postsecondary Education

In our previous post, we briefly discussed the Help Wanted report, which claims that some college education after high school (or postsecondary education, in other words) is becoming more and more of a prerequisite to find a good job. 

The report also incorporates a state-by-state analysis of the the job outlook through 2018.  The statistics it provides regarding employment in Washington State are of particular interest.  Specifically:

By 2018, 67% of jobs in Washington will required postsecondary education.  This is 4 percentage points above the national average of 63%.  Washington ranks 6th (out of a possible 50) in postsecondary education intensity for 2018.

Interested in reading more of what the report has to say about the future of jobs in Washington State? Click here.

Jun 16, 2010

More Employers Will Require Some College

A recent New York Times article by Jacques Steinberg highlights a report recently released by the Center of Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University entitled, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018.  

The Help Wanted report, most notably, argues that some college education after high school is becoming more and more necessary for entry into the middle class. As evidence, the report states that the number of jobs requiring at least a two-year degree will outpace the number of people qualified to fill those positions by at least three million in 2018 (click here for a visual). 

College education hasn't always been necessary in this country to find a good-paying job.  The report, for example, shows that in 1970, about 75 percent of workers considered to be middle class didn't have education beyond high school.  The workforce landscape has changed since, significantly so.  In 2007, under 40 percent of workers considered to be middle class didn't have education beyond high school.  And that percentage, according to the report, will continue to drop in the coming decade.

The Help Wanted authors conclude, "High school graduates and dropouts will find themselves largely left behind in the coming decade as employer demand for workers with postsecondary degrees continues to surge." 

The moral?  A college education is not simply a luxury - it's increasingly a necessity and a prerequisite for better earnings and a higher qualify of life.

Jun 10, 2010

10 Reasons To Pick A Community College

"One of the faster-growing and most important segments of the American college scene is the community college." 

So reads the first sentence of a frequently cited US News & World Report article by Lynn F. Jacobs and George R. Boggs entitled, "10 Reasons To Pick A Community College."  The article first appeared in June of 2009. As envinced in its title, the article highlights the top 10 reasons why students should consider applying to a community college (in some cases called two-year, junior, or technical colleges).

The top 10 reasons to attend a community college include the following:

1. Affordability.  It's no surprise affordability tops the list.  The average annual tuition and fees for a full-time community college student, according to Jacobs and Boggs, is around a third of the cost of tuition and fees at four-year colleges and universities.  Attending a community college translates into big savings.
Just compare Green River's resident tuition and fee rate with that of any four-year university.
2. Convenience.  Community colleges, as Jacobs and Boggs also observe, offer classes at times and locations that are convenient for students who have jobs, kids, or other family responsibilities.
Take Green River, for example, which offers early morning, morning, afternoon, evening, online, flex, and weekend classes to accomodate diverse student populations who want to attend on a full-time or part-time basis. Also at Green River, students can take classes on the main campus, or the Kent Station campus, or the Enumclaw campus, or the Auburn Center location.
3. Open Access.  Community colleges, write Jacobs and Boggs, do not have exclusive admissions standards that require high scores or a certain grade point average from high school.  They provide open access to the community. 
It usually only takes a day or two to have your application for admission to the college processed.  In addition, at Green River, students don't even need their GED or High School Diploma to begin attending college level classes.  Open access is the name of the game and puts the community into community college.
4. Teaching Quality.  Jacobs and Boggs correctly point out that community college classes are taught by experienced faculty, not graduate students or teaching assistants.  Community college faculty members, while still committed to their respsective academic disciplines, aren't pulled away from the work of teaching by stringent research / publishing requirements.
Click here to read about three distinguished faculty members at Green River. 
5. Class Size.  Jacob and Boggs state that class sizes at community colleges are significantly smaller than freshman and sophomore level classes found at public universities.  Nationwide, most community college classes have fewer than 35 students. 
The average class size at GRCC is 30. 
6. Support Services.  Community colleges, write Jacobs and Boggs, offer a variety of services to help students. 
Green River has three different tutoring centers, financial aid tutorials, workforce education funding workshops, counseling services, a variety of student clubs, and extensive library services, only to name a few.
7. Choices.  Community colleges, according to Jacobs and Boggs, frequently offer a variety of educational pathways, from transfer degree programs to vocational training.
Green River fits the bill on this point.  We are a comprenhensive community college.  That is, we offer academic transfer programs, a wide variety of professional technical programs, adult basic skills, GED preparation, High School Completion, study abroad programs, international student programs, and continuing education classes designed for personal enrichment and professional development.  The choices are endless.
8. Diversity.  Jacobs and Boggs keenly observe that community college serve the most diverse group of students in higher education.  The opportunity, they write, to interact with and to learn from other students of diverse ages and diverse backgrounds is invaluable.  Attending a community college, therefore, prepares students to live and flourish within an increasingly globalized, diverse world. 
Green River's chief aim is to help diverse students reach their goals.  One only needs to visit any one of our campuses to see a student population of diverse age, enthinicity, culture, and socio-economic status.   
9. Access To Modern Technology.  Because of the strong partnerships with business and industry, community colleges, according to Jacobs and Boggs, often have cutting-edge equipment that is used by students in the classroom.  Since community colleges offer two degrees, the use of the best equipment isn't reserved for upperclassman or graduate students.
Green River offers 44 different professional technical training programs.  Professional technical programs typically combine classroom learning with hands-on training using technologies specific to a wide variety of occupations.  Professional technical programs are also guided by Industry Advisory committees which ensure training meets the demands of local industry and business.
10. Good Company.  Jacobs and Boggs, in jocular fashion, point out that some of the most accomplished people started their education at a community college - from J. Craig Venter (who mapped the human genome) to Ricahrd Carmona (the former US Surgeon General) to Eileen Collins (the first NASA female shuttle commander) to Nolan Ryan (famous MLB pitcher). 
Green River alum extend far and wide.  Read more about Green River alumni by clicking here.


Jun 1, 2010

Tipping Point Research

You may be asking yourself, 'why go back to school?'  If you look hard enough, you might eventually find a job. However, most new jobs and the majority of jobs that pay a wage that is sufficient to support a family, require at least some education beyond high school. A research study called the "Tipping Point" was conducted in April of 2005 by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.  The study examined the educational achievements and the employment earnings of a cohort of students five years after they first enrolled in a community college. Here are some of the more salient results from the study:

  • Individuals who went through community college occupational degree programs were eight percent more likely to be employed and they earned over $4,400 per year more on average that did similar individuals in the Washington labor force who did not enroll in any training program.
  • Not only do workers with at least a year of college and a credential earn substantially more, they are also in higher demand among employers.
  • Short term training (1-2 quarters) without receiving a credential, may help individuals get into the labor market, but it usually does not help them advance beyond low paying jobs. Adult basic education classes and/or a limited number of college level classes do not provide much benefit in terms of employment or earnings.
  • Students who start with a plan to attend college for a year or longer were more successful than students who did not know upon enrollment how long they would attend.
In sum, the Tipping Point Research Study confrms that education and training have the power to transform the quality of one's life - it shows that earning a professional technical certificate (equivalent to 3 quarters of full time study) can provide a significant earnings advantage compared with those with just some college but no degree. 

But in attending college you need to have a plan before you begin.  Investigate the different types of degrees and certificates offered at Green River Community College, and read about the kind of jobs you might qualify for once you finish the degree or certificate. Once you decide on a training program, plan out how long it will take you to finish it.  The more you plan, the more successful you will be.

To read the Tipping Point Research Study in full click here (it's relatively short, weighing in at about 6 pages).

May 27, 2010

Professional Technical Training Programs At GRCC

Workforce Education funding programs aim to help qualifying students acquire a marketable set of skills.  Having acquried a marketable set of skills, students are then, in theory, poised to return to the workforce.  As such, our funding programs will support qualifying students who want to enroll in a career and technical program, or who want to take individual classes that fall under a given career and technical program. 

Here's a capsule summary of what we mean by "career and technical program," lifted in part from Green River's course catalogue:
There are 44 different career and technical programs available at Green River Community College. Each training program is designed to prepare students for immediate employment in a specific field or occupation.  Career and technical programs are offered in a wide variety of fields, from business and health sciences, to technical fields and trades.  They range in length from one quarter to two years or more, and they typically combine classroom learning with hands-on training using technology that's specific to the field / occupation in question.  Each career and technical program, notably, is guided by an IAC (Industry Advisory Committee) which works to ensure that each training program meets the needs of local business and industry.
That's the overview but we can dig a little deeper.  Career and technical programs come in different shapes and sizes—Associate in Applied Arts degrees, Associate in Applied Science degrees, Certificates, or Certificates of Proficiency.

Associate in Applied Arts (AAA) degrees typically take two years or more to complete, and are awarded for business and business-related fields.  They require earning a minimum of 90 credits with a minimun GPA of 2.0.  AAA's are intended to prepare students for immediate employment and not for transfer.  However, in some cases, credits earned in an AAA degree may be applied down the road to study at a four-year school or university.  In earning an AAA degree, you'll take "major field requirement" classes as well as "related instruction" classes.  Major field classes pertain to the occupation / field you're training for; related instruction classes include communication, math, and human relation classes that are intended to develop breadth of knowledge outside the major field.

Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees, like AAA degrees, typically take two years or more to complete, and require earning a minimum of 90 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0.  AAS degrees are typically awarded to health science, technical, and trades-related fields.  AAS's are intended to prepare students for immediate employment and not for transfer, but in some cases, credits earned within a given AAS may be applied to study at a four-year school or university in the future.  In earning an AAS degree, you'll take "major field requirement" classes as well as "related instruction" classes.

Certificates (CERT) take less time to complete than AAA or AAS degrees.  They are intended to prepare students for immediate employment, and require earning a minimum of 45 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0.  When earning a certificate, you'll take major field classes and related instruction classes to enhance your learning.  In somes cases, the credits you earn in a Certificate program may be applied to an AAA or AAS degree.  In other words, you can first earn a Ceritificate then, if you want, stay on to complete a degree.  Some professional technical programs are set up so that Certificates feed into the larger, corresponding two year degree. 

Last, there are Certificates of Proficiency (CERT-P).  Certificates of Proficiency are awarded in some professional technical programs and are intended to prepare students for immediate employment.  They take less time to complete than a Certificate.  Coursework in a CERT-P  comes to 44 credits or less and requires earning a minimum GPA of 2.0.  Generally speaking, CERT-P's do not include taking classes outside the major subject.  In other words, you won't take related instruction classes, just major fields classes that pertain to the occupation you're training for. 

There you have it.  Four different kinds of career and technical program: The short-term Certificate of Proficiency (44 credits or less); the one year or more Certificate (45 credits or more); the two year or more Associate in Applied Science degree (90 credits or more); and the two year or more Associate in Applied Arts degree (90 credits or more).

To learn more, click here for a list of available career and technical degrees, certificates, and certificates of proficiency at Green River Community College.

May 24, 2010

Take A Career Assessment

Clients who visit the Workforce Education Office to apply for funding know they're in need of retraining, but not all of them are always sure what occupation they want to retrain for.  If that sounds like you, know that Green River provides a variety of tools that can help you select an occupation / career that fits your needs, interests, and strengths. 

Specifically, Green River offers three different professional career assessments to aid students in their search for fulfilling future careers.  These assessments include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), and StrengthsQuest. 

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you determine what type of career would fit your personality.  According to greenriver.edu, the MBTI has been used for more than 50 years and is the most trusted personality tool available today.  In a nutshell it helps you:
  • Identify careers that might fit and satisfy you
  • Improve individual and team performance
  • Develop your leadership style
  • Idenitfy your personality type
The Strong Interest Inventory can help you determine which occupation most closely aligns with your interests. According to greenriver.edu, the SII has been used for nearly 80 years to guide students in their search for a rich and fulfilling line of work.  This assessment helps you:
  • Pinpoint the most satisfying career choice for you
  • Measure your interest in 6 general occupational themes
  • Find your fit in relation to 122 diverse occupations
Last of all, StrengthsQuest can help you determine what you do better than the next 1,000 people.  In other words, this particular assessment helps students identify, and thus play off of, their strengths. It is an innovate online assessment that looks at how you naturally think, relate with people, and influence those around you.  With StrengthsQuest, you can:
  • Discover and develop your 5 greatest strengths
  • Use your strengths to improve your grades and increase learning
  • Strategically determine a rewarding career path
  • Focus on your strengths rathen than on your weaknesses
Deciding on a career is an important, life-altering choice.  Don't just follow your gut.  Make an informed choice.  Analyzing your local job market, talking to career advisors and faculty members at the college, and engaging in a bit of self-exploration with the aid of professional career assessments, can help you achieve focus and direction.  And if you have focus and direction, chances are you'll be more successfull as a student. 

In sum, if you're in need of retraining but are uncertain of what occupation to retrain for, taking one or a mix of these assessments might help steer you in the right direction.  All three assessments can be purchased and taken at the Zgolinski Welcome Center.  Green River charges students $20 per assessment and non-students $40 per assessment.

Can't afford to purchase an assessment?  Visit the Workforce Education Office in SMT 229 to receive a waiver to take the Strong Interest Inventory at no cost.  Just ask the front desk assistant for a free career assessment.

May 20, 2010

Let's Talk Training Benefits

***For an update on the Training Benefits application, check out our more recent post***

Today's post is an informal discussion of the Training Benefits program.  If you're eligible to collect (or presently collecting) Unemployment and looking to attend a community or technical college so as to update a skill set or to retrain for a new occupation, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the Training Benefits program right away. 

Let's start with the technical definition.  The Training Benefits program was created by the Washington State Legislature in 2000.  It is administered by the Employment Security Deparment and it provides extended Unemployment benefits to dislocated workers whose occupations are in decline and are therefore in need of training to find a new job. 

In simpler terms, training benefits equals additional weeks of Unemployment you can collect while going to school to retrain for that new job.  Up to 26 weeks, to be exact.  That's up to half a year of extra Unemployment. 

If a given student applies and is approved for the Training Benefits program, the training benefits - or extra weeks of Unemployment - would kick in after his/her regular Unemployment benefits and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) have run out.  

To apply for the Training Benefits program, all's you need to do is fill out and submit a Training Benefits application.  It's only about 6 pages long but it will require some work.  Among other things, you'll have to demonstrate the following:
  • First, that you are coming from a decline occupation.  To determine if your occupation is in decline, the application prompts you to visit www.wilma.org/wdclists.  It's a user-friendly website that allows you to look up labor market info on any given occupation in your county of residence.  See page 3 of the application. 
  • Second, that the degree or certificate you want to pursue is on the Eligibility Training Provider List.  To determine this, the application prompts you to visit www.careerbridge.wa.gov/.  Also, you'll need to map out the specifics of your training program - what college you plan to attend, when you expect to begin the training program, and when you expect to complete the training program as a whole. See page 4 of the application.
  • Third and final, that the training will lead to a job, or to a variety of jobs, which are in demand.  Again, the application directs you back to www.wilma.org/wdclists to determine this.  See page 4 of the application.
Also note that embedded within the Training Benefits application is a request for something called Commissioner Approved Training (or CAT, for short).  This is fancy language for permission to go to school while drawing your Unemployment.  CAT does not extend your Unemployment benefits; it just gives you permission to go to school.  If you are approved for CAT, ESD will suspend the requirement for you to look for work so that you can focus on school.  If, and only if, you are approved.  See page 6 and 7 of the application. 

Therefore, in submitting the Training Benefits application, you're actually asking the Employment Security Department for two things - training benefits (additional weeks of Unemployment) and commissioner approved training (permission to go to school).  This is why the application is sometimes referred to as a TB/CAT or CAT/TB application. 

Once you have completed your Training Benefits application, you will need a representative from the college to review and sign off on the application so as to certify that the information you provided about your training program is reasonable and correct.  Make sure the college rep you ask to review and sign you application is qualified to do so.  Your final step is to submit the completed application, along with all corresponding printouts and job logs, either to the Training Benefits Unit by mail, or to your local WorkSource Affiliate in person. 

Oh, and one last thing.  The Training Benefits application is time sensitive.  As stated on page 1, ESD says you have 90 days to submit the application.  Specifically, that 90 day clock started ticking once you received your initial Unemployment Claims Kit in the mail.

If you have any questions regarding your 90 day deadline, or have further questions about your eligibility for training benefits or commissioner approved training, it's always a safe bet to connect with a WorkSource Specialist or an Unemployment Liason.  Get answers from a trusted authority and not from the rumor mill.

Hopefully, it's all starting to make a little bit of sense.

May 14, 2010

Job Club

FYI - The Job Club at Green River Community College will be meeting throughout the month of May in SMT 341 every Wednesday from 2 - 3 pm.  The aim of Job Club is to help students learn new skills and master new tools to help them with their next job search.  The topics that will be addressed in Job Club are as follows:

May 5th,   2010  -  Writing Resumes and Cover Letters
May 12th, 2010  -  Job Search Tools
May 19th, 2010  -  Interviewing Skills
May 26th, 2010  -  Salary Negotiations  
June 2nd, 2010   -  Interviewing Skills

If you have questions or want more information, call 253-833-9111 ext 2553 or visit Karen Brasch in SMT 229.

About The Go 2 College Free Program

Go 2 College Free is the name of a campaign at Green River Community College put on throughout the year by the Workforce Education Office. In a nutshell, Workforce Education administers four funding programs that help qualifying students pay for school. Our funding programs include Worker Retraining, Opportunity Grant, Basic Food Employment & Training, and WorkFirst. Most of our programs pay for 100% of tuition and fees, and some even offer money for books. Let's briefly talk about each funding program in a little more detail.

First, there's the Worker Retraining Program.

This program is available to students in need of a skill update and who want to earn a professional technical degree or certificate at Green River Community College.  You might qualify for the Worker Retraining program at GRCC if you are collecting Unemployment, if you have exhausted your Unemployment within the last 2 years, or if you have recently receiving a layoff notice.  You might also qualify if you have separated from the Armed Forces within the last 2 years with an honorable discharge or if you are displaced as a result of a divorce, separation, or death of a partner / spouse. 

Second, there's the Opportunity Grant Program.

This program is available to students who want to earn a profressional technical degree or certificate in the field of Autobody, Aviation, Business, Education, Healthcare, Natural Resources, or Welding. You might qualify for the Opportunity Grant program if you are a Washington State resident who meets a set of low-income guidelines.

Third, there's the Basic Food Employment & Training Program (or BFET, for short).

This program was first piloted in Washington State in 2005 at South Seattle Community College. Since, it has expanded to various other community and technical colleges throughout the state, including Green River Community College.  This program is available to students who want to earn a professional technical degree or certificate, or who want to earn their GED or High School Diploma.  You might qualify if you live in either King, Pierce, or Kitsap County and if you are eligible to receive Basic Food Assistance

Fourth and final, there's the WorkFirst Program.

This program, like BFET, is available to students who want to earn a professional technical degree or certificate, who want to earn their GED or High School Diploma.  You might qualify if you are a parent who receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), and if you have permission from your DSHS case manager to go to school. 


To apply, visit go2collegefree.com.  A the website you can take a brief, anonymous survey to confirm your eligibility; after taking the survey, you can then sign yourself up for the next available Go 2 College Free funding workshop.  Workshops are offered on a rotating basis throughout the year, before the start of each quarter of study, and are typically held on the Auburn main campus.