Older students find success at Wisconsin's technical colleges

Older student at computer with instructorYou could be the answer to Wisconsin’s skills gap. Maybe you chose to go to work rather than pursue higher education after high school or chose to remain at home with your children. Now you are finding your opportunities limited, as technology brought huge changes to the workplace.

It’s not too late. You can gain new skills and a new career through your local technical college. Here are answers to some of the most common barriers for adults:

  1. We can help you be ready for college level work. Even if you did not earn a high school diploma, technical colleges provide support for students to prepare for the GED or HSED exams. If you need help in basic reading, writing, mathematics, contact the Adult Basic Education department.
  2. You are not the only older student. The average age for all students enrolled by WTCS colleges in 2009-2010 was 34.9 years. Of those students 18.4 percent were age 50 and over.  Of the 27,315 graduates in 2012, more than 50 percent were over the age of 25.
  3. Flexible scheduling allows you to continue to work while taking classes. Many of the degree and diploma programs are scheduled in the evenings or online so you can study around your work schedule. Some classes meet once a week and students complete the rest of the assignments online.
  4. Financial aid is available. Even adult students can qualify for financial aid. If you are a veteran, displaced homemaker or have been laid off, you may qualify for special aid packages.
  5. You can succeed.  Susan Colbeth got laid off from two jobs before enrolling in the administrative professional program at Chippewa Valley Technical College. It was a big adjustment to go from factory work to an office environment, but last May she graduated along with her daughter. Mitch Wilke, 56, completed an associate degree in mechanical design and found a job before graduation with the help of WisconsinTechConnect.org, a service for all Wisconsin Technical College System students.

Adult Career Pathways provide short segments of education in high-demand fields leading to employer recognized credentials. Each segment or “chunk” leads to further education and career advancement.

Current high school graduates alone cannot fill the need for skilled workers in Wisconsin in the coming years. We need more individuals to fulfill their potential and gain new skills to meet employers’ current demand. As an older worker you have many soft skills employers want along with experience and confidence. All you need is to gain the occupational or technical skills employers need. Apply today.

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