CareerFocus: An Easier Transition

By Mary Ann Davis

If you are thinking of changing careers, but are in need of training, consider Carroll  Community College before attending a four-year institution. Carroll offers programs that prepare you to continue your studies at a four-year institution and short-term training programs that permit you to enter the workforce in a matter of months.

Whichever program you choose, beginning college later in life can be overwhelming. At Carroll you are likely to find yourself being one of many adult students on campus, experience a more personalized transition and reap the financial benefits of a community college.

Both Amy Kemp and Susan Gartner left the workforce to be stay at home moms. After being out of the workforce for several years, they found it necessary to re-enter the workforce but discovered they needed training. Each having children, they considered Carroll because of its close location to home and their children’s schools.

Kemp enrolled in the Teacher Education transfer program  and Gartner chose to enroll in the noncredit Phlebotomy Technician program.

Like many adult students, they agreed that returning to college was intimidating but Carroll  had a significant impact in reassuring them.

“Sometimes being the oldest student in your class can be tough to accept,” said Kemp. “However, I never felt like I was the oldest student at Carroll, which I can’t say about my four-year transfer institution.”

Beyond taking classes, Kemp made a point to get involved with the college outside of the classroom. “The socialization of groups really helped me to fit in. I felt like part of the college community,” said Kemp.

She became involved in the Photography Club and two Academic Communities: Health
& Wellness and Education. She also participated in Student Advocacy Day to share her positive experiences at Carroll with the state government.

“It’s easier to get involved here, because student activities typically occur during the day. It seems most of the activities occur at night at the four-year institution I attend,” stated Kemp.

In addition, both Kemp and Gartner found the college’s family friendly atmosphere helpful.

As the mother of two young children, Gartner was going to need daycare if she was going to
take classes. Thankfully, Carroll offers childcare through its Child Development Center. She contacted the Director who “was very helpful” in assisting Gartner with her needs.

When she was not able to arrange for a family member to look after her children during her class, she could take advantage of the Child Development Center’s services.

Given that Kemp’s children were a little older, she was able to bring them to the college where they would occupy themselves, in the library or the Great Hall, with homework,  reading or various other activities while she was in class.

The college also offers family fun activities like music and theatrical performances and its film series, which can occupy older kids when parents are in class or be an activity the whole family can enjoy.

Instructor involvement also made a significant difference in contributing to their positive
experience. “My instructor’s kindness took the pressure and weight off and she made learning fun,” said Gartner. She was supportive,positive and very reachable. And, because applying for a job in today’s workforce is so much more impersonal now, she made the
transition process much better.”

Kemp had a similar experience. “The instructor of my first education class was very encouraging and really helped to reduce my anxiety,” said Kemp. “Plus, she provided a lot of
assistance and good advice when it came time for me to transfer.”

Financial advantages were another benefit of attending Carroll. The tuition for the Phlebotomy Technician program was so reasonable, Gartner didn’t need financial aid.

Scholarships and Pell grants paid for all of Kemp’s Carroll expenses, and because she graduated as a member of the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, she received a scholarship towards her education at her four-year transfer institution.

“Most people don’t realize more scholarship opportunities are available to students who transfer with an associate’s degree,” said Kristine DeWitt, director of Transfer and Retention at Carroll. “It’s a very significant benefit that is often overlooked.”

Going back to school requires a lot of drive, commitment and hard work, and the anxiety of returning to college combined with the day-to-day responsibilities can add to the stress. Carroll eases students into college so they can spend more time enjoying their experience
and focusing on completing their programs successfully.

Upon receiving her associate’s degree, Kemp transferred to a four-year institution, where she
takes classes in the evening and substitute teaches during the day at Carroll County Public Schools. She has been able to work every day, and has such a good rapport with the teachers that some will make personal arrangements with her directly. After she receives her bachelor’s degree she hopes to find a full-time permanent position as an Art teacher.

After completing the three month Phlebotomy Technician program, Gartner was hired by Carroll County General Hospital. She now works on Saturdays and Sundays, leaving her time during the week to care for her children. And, as a result of her positive experience at Carroll, she’s thinking of furthering her career and enrolling in the Diagnostic Medical
Sonography program.

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