Interview with Kelly Mullan
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (7:21)
Announcer: This is Making Futures; helping individuals discover their passion and fulfill their potential.
Interviewer: Today I'm speaking with Kelly Mullan, Career Specialist at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, and we're speaking about the advantages of a technical college education.
Interviewer: Kelly, what are the biggest advantages you see of attending a technical college?
Kelly: Many of the advantages that our students cite are our affordable tuition rate, the fact that students can remain close to home while getting their education, and that our campuses are small and the class sizes are small; that gives students a real feeling of belonging.
Interviewer: How do the class sizes compare with state universities?
Kelly: Our class sizes are generally quite small. Many of the labs on our campus are under 20 students in a given class.
Interviewer: I guess it depends on what program you're in.
Kelly: It does, yep.
Interviewer: Can you get a degree faster at a technical college? I hear things about waiting lists.
Kelly: Technical college degrees are intended to be completed in two years or less. We have some programs that you can complete in a matter of months - up to two years. There are some very popular programs that do have a waiting list, but we just encourage students to apply early so that we can get them in and get them started with their education.
Interviewer: Is a tech college degree valuable in the job market?
Kelly: We find that it's very valuable in our area. The graduate follow-up survey tells us that within six months of graduation, 91% of our students are employed and 75% of our students are employed in a career related to their training they received here at the technical college.
Interviewer: So employers value these degrees and they're really looking for our graduates it sounds like?
Interviewer: What can you say about the quality of the instructors at a technical college?
Kelly: The unique thing about instructors at a technical college is that not only have the obtained a higher education for themselves, they've also worked out in their industry or in their field so they have that real life experience to bring back to the classroom. According to our student satisfaction survey that they completed, WITC was ranked sixth in the nation for student satisfaction for a two-year college.
Interviewer: Hmm..that sounds really great! Can someone get a degree and keep their current job? How flexible is the scheduling?
Kelly: Just like any college, we do offer online programs, blended delivery, but the unique thing about a technical college and a hands-on education, is that sometimes a program would dictate that you would need to physically be in the classroom during a certain time to participate. For instance, our cosmetology students; they run a real hair salon here, so they need to be here during normal business hours. So while it is possible to work your full-time job while you attend school, it's highly dependent on the program of study that you're interested in.
Interviewer: I can see that. How does the cost of a technical college compare with a state university or a private college?
Kelly: Well, a technical college system is publicly funded, so our tuition rates, that allows us to keep them quite low. In addition to our low tuition we also see that our students ability to repay their loan debt is higher than most other institutions, which tells us not only that the education is affordable also that students are getting a return on their investment and they're able to be out there having a job and repaying any student loan debt that they do have.
Interviewer: You mentioned hands-on learning, are there other advantages in a technical college setting?
Kelly: Absolutely! While I think hands-on learning is one of our most important, because for so many learners traditional style classroom lecture isn't the way they learn best and here at the technical college they're able to be up and on their feet, really experiencing the things that they're interested in. The Technical College System also offers the latest in technology and I mean that both in terms of the equipment that we have, the computer programs that we offer, and the smart, integrated classrooms that we have in our facilities.
Interviewer: Would a student be missing out on the campus experience by attending a technical college?
Kelly: That's a question that we get quite often. We do have vibrant campus life, including program clubs, we have special interests clubs such as Veterans groups, we also have student government. So there are many ways to belong on a technical college campus. In addition, many of the colleges in our system do offer partnerships for student housing. Many of them partner with universities nearby or some of the technical colleges in our system even have campus housing, so that students can really get that full college experience
Interviewer: And, there are places to hang out and be with your friends on campus and some other kind of social and entertainment activities?
Kelly: Yep! One of the things we do here at WITC is that we do campus activities during the middle of the day, when we know that all of our students are around. So for instance, this week it's "snow week". We have students down in the atrium, they're tie-dying scarfs right now. So we do offer all of the activities that you would find on any college campus.
Interviewer: So you can really develop a circle of friends and a community atmosphere there?
Kelly: Absolutely! And with the small size of the technical college campuses, that sense of community becomes really important as a support system for students and also so that they can enjoy their education.
Interviewer: Yeah, sounds like fun. Are there any other particular advantages about tech colleges that we should mention?
Kelly: Well, I think one of the things is the wide variety of programming that is offered in the technical college system. Prior to coming to this job, as a community member, I really had no idea all the different programs that were available, and all of those can be seen on the WTCS website.
Interviewer: I have been speaking with Kelly Mullan, Career Specialist at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, about the many advantages of attending a technical college. We hope that this encourages parents and students to explore all the possibilities for their career preparation. Thanks Kelly!
Kelly: Thank you!
Announcer: Making Futures is a presentation of Wisconsin's 16 Technical Colleges. Thanks for listening.