Carry students as far as they can go

One of the most important parts of the mission of community colleges is to increase access to higher education for a broader set of adult learners.  Community colleges are unique to the United States and reflect the belief of most Americans that everyone can lift themselves up with a little help from our public education systems.  No matter how a person starts out in life or at what point he or she understands the necessity for getting higher education or training, anyone can come to BCTC and colleges like us all around the country and get the help they need.

I became a professional at a college in the North Carolina Community College System.  I have said for years that I got my degree at a university, but I got my education at my first real job at a two-year college.  I taught adult basic skills, remedial education, and GED preparation.  The NC system and its 58 colleges were envisioned by a study and begun by legislation and funding in 1957.  In 1962, the fully comprehensive system was born, bringing together transfer education and career education and training.

Dr. W. Dallas Herring is universally acclaimed as the “Father” of NC community colleges.  I always loved what he wrote about why community colleges are important.  He said these colleges exemplify, “…the philosophy of total education; a belief in the incomparable worth of all human beings, whose claims upon the state are equal before the law and equal before the bar of public opinion; whose talents (however great or however limited or however different from the traditional) the state needs and must develop to the fullest possible degree.”  He continued, “That is why the doors to…community colleges must never be closed to anyone of suitable age who can learn what they teach.  We must take people where they are and carry them as far as they can go….”

Our goals at BCTC embody that philosophy.  We need to make education accessible to all who need our services.  We have a diverse population of students, everyone from the young, single mother who needs a flexible schedule and affordable tuition—to the returning worker who can finally get the advanced skills he needs to be promoted in his job—to the college-ready high school graduate who can benefit from small classes and caring faculty to help transition to a university—to the refugee fleeing violence and starting over to contribute to her new country.

There are several ways we help students to get the education they need. Here are just a few:

  • Campuses throughout Central Kentucky so that we are within a 30 minute drive of most residents.
  • A four-day schedule for most of our face-to-face classes making transportation to campus less expensive.
  • Day, evening, and week-end classes.
  • A rich mix of well-designed online classes with experienced and tech-savvy faculty.
  • Caring and engaged support staff who will help with everything from registration, to career planning, to tutoring, to addressing life issues that risk derailing a student’s education.
  • Scholarships, financial aid, and payment plans for those who need extra financial assistance.
  • Specific and targeted engagement for new, first-year students to aid in transition to college.
  • Classes that support those who are not yet college-ready in math, English, or reading to both improve those basic skills and earn college credits. 

Students know the value of the opportunities provided.  Here are what a few students have said about their decision to come to BCTC. 

Tim Leshney is earning an AAS in Advanced Manufacturing Technology.  He attends classes at the Georgetown-Scott County Campus and will graduate in May 2018.  Tim said, “Returning to college wasn't easy, but the hands-on instruction and discipline I learned in the military ensured my success.  After graduation, I'm looking forward to earning a bachelor’s degree in business and to a long career at Toyota.” 

Andrew Boyce is participating in our student legislative intern program with Senator Ralph Alvarado.  He is majoring in political science and wants to continue to UK.  Andrew said, “After making some bad decisions, it took 10 years to get back to college.  Since then, my life has gotten better every day.  I love my small classes, the professors’ encouragement, and the opportunity to learn about our political system.”

Crystal Wicks is looking to a career in Computer Information Technology.  She will earn an Associate in Applied Science this May.  She said, “BCTC is preparing me for the career I want when my children are not my full-time job.  There are students of all ages in my classes, and online courses and flexible class schedules help college fit into my life.  My new career? Teaching CIT.”

These (and many others) are terrific students who will make their way in the world and reach back to take others with them.  They are, as Dr. Herring envisioned many years ago, people “whose talents…the state needs and must develop to the fullest possible degree.”