How to Enroll in a Wisconsin Technical College

Mark Franks, dean of enrollment services and registrar at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, describes the steps to enroll in a Wisconsin technical college.

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Interview with Mark Franks
Dean of Enrollment Services and Registrar
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (11:38)

Announcer: This is Making Futures; helping individuals discover their passion and fulfill their potential. 

Interviewer: Today on our program, I’m speaking with Mark Franks, dean of enrollment services and registrar at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Mark is going to help us understand the enrollment process. Mark, what documents should people have before beginning the enrollment process at a Wisconsin technical college?

Mark: One thing that makes it very helpful when they’re applying to a program is a copy of their high school transcript. Most, if not all, technical colleges require a copy of the high school transcript with proof of graduation of completion or proof of an HSED or a GED. The other thing that most, if not all, the technical colleges require is proof of some sort of assessment. There are different assessments accepted by different colleges. At our college we have an assessment called the Accuplacer. And there are scores that you receive that you will need from the Math and English parts of the Accuplacer that you need to be accepted into a program.

Interviewer: Where can you take those assessments?

Mark: Each of the technical colleges has an assessment center. So you can come here to our main campus or regional campuses or centers and take that assessment. Also, at our district high schools, they all offer the assessment in partnership with our college in the counseling office. I think you’ll find that at most technical colleges in Wisconsin. If you are a high school student, you are able to go and take that in the high school or they will give you information on how to take it at the technical college that is closest to you.

Interviewer: So is taking this assessment the first step in this process?

Mark: It certainly helps to take the assessment first, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in that order. We require an application and a $30 application fee at all of the Wisconsin technical college campuses. If you do not take the assessment prior to filling out the application, you will get a letter from the admissions office saying “Thank you for applying. We need a copy of your high school transcripts and we need you to take an assessment test.” If you take the assessment test first, then that requirement will be met. If you choose to wait to get a confirmation letter, then it will tell you that you need to take the assessment, and tell you where to go to take it.

Interviewer: Do you begin with the online application or do you have to go to the campus first?

Mark: It differs with the different technical colleges. The trend, as we’ve seen in the last year with our college, is to go to an online application. It’s very interactive and easy to use. With our school, you go to our website, click on applications, and fill out the application. At the end, when you hit submit, if you had not paid the $30 application fee, you would pay the fee right on the application, it would then tell you what you need to do next right on the online application. So if you hadn’t taken the assessment, it would tell you right there to go and take the assessment. If you were missing any documents, such as your high school transcripts, it would tell you to get us a copy. It’s extremely interactive. If you have all of that done already in the system, and you fill out the application and have the assessment test on file and we already have your high school transcripts, it will go and accept you to your programs automatically if you meet the requirements, that day, that hour that you fill out the application. I think more of the technical colleges are going toward the online application. Right now at our college it’s probably 80% to 20% and it’s rising, where the number of people fill out an online application versus a paper one.

Interviewer: It sounds like it’s very helpful in terms of guiding people through the application.

Mark: The other thing that’s very helpful is anytime you have a paper application and many people are touching that piece of paper, there is the chance of it getting misplaced or sitting on someone’s desk while it awaits some approval. With this system, you sort of eliminate all those possibilities. You allow it to move through the system freely even to the point, as I mentioned before, you can be accepted right as you fill out the application. It’s that simple. Usually what happens is the student is accepted their program initially to a pre-program and they will have some things to complete, like higher test scores or other classes to be accepted to our other programs. It’s a very simple process. We automated a lot of it and I think it provides a good level of customer service to the students.

Interviewer: So to answer the question of how long does it take, it depends on your program you want to get in to. Is that correct?

Mark: It does. Some of the programs are a little harder to get in to. They require more or different courses to be taken before getting into the program, or higher test scores. Some of the programs, accounting is a good example, require high school transcripts and assessment scores needed to get in to accounting. So if you accomplish both of those, that would be a good example of being accepted immediately to a program when you submit your application. We have a couple of programs, such as radiography, that are more difficult processes, it requires more, you have to write an essay, they look at the courses you’ve taken. It’s a more selective process.

Interviewer: That’s a really good point to make about the difference between the two-year and four year colleges enrollment. Is there a certain time of year when people should be starting this process?

Mark: Historically, here at our college, we’ve accepted -- for many years it was the Tuesday after Labor Day, where you could apply to the next fall’s programs. Which used to be when the majority of our programs, especially our high demand programs started, so now we’ve moved it to now as a lot of colleges have that because of high school’s starting late, to the Monday following the Labor Day Monday. The other thing I see is that is has not become such a process anymore where there’s a certain day. People are applying to programs all year round. And so we start accepting applications for the next year the Monday after Labor Day. So this past year if you applied the Monday after Labor Day, you could put in an application for the 2013-2014 school year.

Interviewer: Lets talk about the difference between admission and registration.

Mark: Sure. So people apply to programs. Lets say they want to be once again accounting, they want to be in the accounting program. They would, as we have talked about, fill out an application, pay their application fee, meet the requirements to get into that program, and then they would be accepted or what we call matriculated into that program. Being accepted into the program allows them to take any of the classes within the program and also allows them to graduate from the program. But also, as a part of that, being accepted invites you to register for those program classes. We either can have them register at an orientation or at a registration night. That ability for them to register, when they register allows them to get into classes in that particular program. Lets say they decide during the second semester that the accounting program just isn’t for them, but they’re still registered for classes. We do not automatically take them out of those classes; the student needs to remove themselves from the classes. They may be interested in a different program which means they’ll put in a new application, for say business administration, but the classes are a little bit separate, in terms of registering and dropping, from actually being admitted to a program.

Interviewer: In closing, what advice do you have for people who want to enroll in a Wisconsin technical college?

Mark: It’s a wonderful system. We have so many great students here and the campuses are so warm and inviting. The instructors are really teaching at a high level. We have all sorts of different students here. We have students directly out of high school. We have students that have been in the work force for 20 years and are coming back to school, we have displaced workers, and we have veterans. It’s just a great mix of individuals, a great mix of staff that help the students. And one thing you’ll notice about the technical colleges is that we are really hands on for providing service to our students. If you need help with financial aid, we’ll have someone who will sit down with you and help you fill out your financial aid forms, if you need help registering for classes, we have people that are going to help you register for your classes. It’s very hands on. Like I said the quality of instruction in the classroom, the quality of the technology that we have to offer, it mirrors and is very similar to what you’ll find in industry. So it’s a great mix of different things for the students.

Interviewer: Thanks, Mark. I’ve been speaking with Mark Franks, dean of enrollment services and registrar at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. We’ve been speaking about the enrollment process.

Announcer: Making Futures is a presentation of Wisconsin's 16 Technical Colleges. Thanks for listening.