Labor shortages across nearly all industries are making headlines, but this is a topic community colleges have tackled for years. With increased urgency, local institutions prioritize course and program offerings to meet workforce demands.
The results build strong communities and make some great success stories.
Ryan Vogt, who thought he hated math in high school, said the personal attention his Finger Lakes Community College math professor gave him changed his whole outlook on the subject. Now, Ryan has a doctorate in mathematics and works at a U.S. Department of Energy lab.
Like many scholarship recipients at Genesee Community College, Claire Gardner was inspired and determined when she entered the Nursing Program. Upon graduation in 2019, she was prepared to be effective on the frontlines battling COVID-19, transferred her associate degree to SUNY Brockport to continue her education and landed her dream job as a NICU nurse at Rochester General Hospital.
When his first year at a university fell short of his expectations, Evan Baldwin shifted his educational path. He knew Monroe Community College's precision machining program was the right fit for him. Evan was hired as a full-time CNC operator a month before earning his associate degree in May.
Though each of their experiences is unique, they represent the stories of thousands of students who start and complete their studies at community colleges every year. Thousands more inspiring stories of how community colleges have transformed students' lives are waiting to unfold.
Dreams -- not debt -- are why individuals go to college. Like Ryan, Claire and Evan, New Yorkers go to college to achieve their goals, whether earning an associate degree for an in-demand job, learning new skills to change careers, or pursuing a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D.
That's exactly what the State University of New York's 30 community colleges, including FLCC, GCC and MCC in the Western New York region, are designed for.
At a time when student loan debt is rising across the country, nearly two-thirds of SUNY community college associate degree graduates have zero student loan debt. That means they leave campus with no student debt, but have an accredited SUNY degree, and a pathway to a career or an advanced degree.
Simply put, community college is the most affordable way to earn a college degree, no matter how far they want to go.
New York State is rebounding and rebuilding after the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means job opportunities in many industries will return to full vitality and new, future-looking jobs will be created.
With deep ties to their communities and regions, SUNY community colleges can help residents seize this moment -- and make education work around a busy life, with flexible on-campus and online associate degree programs for full-time or part-time students.
Applications can be completed online, are easier than ever and free at FLCC, GCC and MCC, like at most community colleges. Knowledgeable faculty and staff are available to guide students through the process.
Anyone interested is encouraged to visit flcc.edu, genesee.edu, and monroecc.edu for information on special enrollment opportunities.