Wyoming County boasts a fully accredited college, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s Wyoming-McDowell Campus, located in Saulsville.
“You might think that college is just high school continued, but it’s not,” David Lord, director of campus operations at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s Wyoming-McDowell Campus, said.
Lord has been talking with area students participating in the GEAR UP program.
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Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federally funded program active in 10 West Virginia counties, including Wyoming County. The program is designed to help students “prepare to succeed in education and training beyond high school.”
Students visit area colleges, participate in summer college camps, listen to college representatives, among numerous other activities designed to encourage education beyond high school.
West Virginia GEAR UP is managed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, in conjunction with the West Virginia Community and Technical College System, West Virginia Department of Education, West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, along with additional community partners.
Operating on seven-year cycles, the GEAR UP program has one group of program graduates from 2014 and is now administering its second consecutive GEAR UP grant, which will conclude in 2021.
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“College opens doors for you that high school doesn’t,” Lord emphasized.
“And college can change you and shape you in ways that you might not imagine.”
“We want to make entering, or returning to college, as simple as possible,” according to officials.
“We can provide personalized attention to help prospective students set realistic goals that will lead to their success. We believe everyone can succeed at Southern.”
Students of any age, who possess the desire to pursue higher education, are welcome at Southern, Lord said.
“Southern is proud of its academic excellence, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and ‘real world’ credentials,” he noted.
“Southern’s committed and knowledgeable staff is dedicated to helping students achieve their educational goals.”
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“One of the great things about being able to choose your own courses is that you get the opportunity to explore,” Lord said of attending college.
“You can try classes in a lot of different subjects, or you can dive right into a favorite subject.
“You may choose to begin training for a career right away.
“Or you may pick a major after taking some time to check out your options.
“Colleges offer classes and majors in subjects you’ve studied in high school, plus many more that you haven’t,” Lord said.
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Every bit of education obtained after high school increases the chances for increased pay, Lord pointed out.
“Most college graduates earn more money during their working years than people who stop their education at high school earn,” he said.
Additionally, the more education one obtains, the more likely it is he/she will always have a job, according to Lord.
By the year 2028, according to one estimate, there will be 19 million more jobs for educated workers than there will be qualified people to fill them, he said.
Continuing education after high school is much more important for this generation than it was for their parents’ generation.
“Businesses want to hire people who know how to think and solve problems,” Lord emphasized.
“Education beyond high school gives you a lot of other benefits, including meeting new people, taking part in new opportunities to explore your interests, and experiencing success.”
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Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College offers a full array of financial aid programs – grants, work, loans and scholarships to full-time and part-time students.
Financial aid is also available to help students with the cost of fees, books and supplies.
In 2013-14, Southern awarded more than $6 million in federal, state and institutional financial aid to approximately 84 percent of its students.
The average amount of financial aid awarded per student was $4,987, according to officials.
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Those interested in attending Southern may begin the admission process by obtaining an application, which is available on the college website or at the campus in Saulsville. Students will also need to provide his/her final high school transcript or GED scores, immunization records, and/or official college/university transcripts.
For more information, visit Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College online at southernwv.edu or phone 304-294-8346.