Thursday, July 1, 2010

Taking classes at Bishop State can help you earn more money

Students who do well in high school and come from a background of college-educated parents with middle to upper income or access to loans typically have no trouble getting in to, and paying for, four-year colleges.

But where does that leave students who performed more poorly in high school, come from more disadvantaged backgrounds (family incomes less than $50,000), and were less likely to have parents with a bachelor's degree and encourage college? Much better off if they opt for community college, says a recent study by Dr. Dave Marcotte from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. And in women the advantage is even greater.

The study showed that women with a two-year community college degree earn 45.8% more annually than high school educated women. Men who enroll at a community college and attain a two-year degree earn, on average, 12.2% more annually than male peers who stop at high school graduation

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2005), nearly 40% of all students enrolled in postsecondary education are at two-year institutions. Community colleges typically have easier enrollment policies, lower tuition costs, and varied course selection.

The study also revealed that women earn an additional 9.6% annually by completing just one year of full-time study at a community college, even without earning a degree. Men earn 5.1% more annually for each year of full-time equivalent coursework completed, even though no degree was obtained.

Clearly, enrolling in classes to improve skills, even without obtaining a degree, has considerable economic benefit. There is consistent evidence that average wages and salaries for young men and women who earn associate degrees from community colleges are substantially higher than for those without postsecondary education.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Top 10 List

With the increasing pressure on family budgets, community colleges have become smart alternatives to the more expensive four-year colleges and universities. There are many reasons that undergraduates choose to start their higher education in a community college such as Bishop State. Here are the top 10:

1. Affordability. Community colleges cost significantly less than state or private colleges and universities. This makes them a cost-effective way to complete the first two years of college. The money you save by living at home and going to your local community college can help pay for your last two years at a four-year college or university. Bishop State students often find they qualify for financial aid while attending. And in some cases, we offer work-study.

2. Convenience. Community colleges offer classes at times and locations that are convenient for students. Bishop State has four campuses in Mobile, and offers classes in the evenings plus the more traditional day classes. We also offer online classes as another alternative, making education convenient to those who must fit school around work or family responsibilities. Students can also choose to attend on a full-time or a part-time basis.

3. Open access. Community colleges do not have exclusive admissions standards that require high scores on an admissions test or a certain grade-point average from high school. Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent can enroll at Bishop State. Some students even enroll while in high school to get a head start on college. Starting at a community college gives students a chance to improve a high school record before transferring to a university. Open access, however, does not mean that students can take any course; students usually are given placement examinations and then advised or placed into developmental courses if they are not up to college-level work.

4. Teaching quality. Community college classes are taught by faculty who care about teaching and student learning, not by teaching assistants. The faculty members at Bishop State are fully committed to teaching and are not pulled away by research interests or the need to publish in order to get tenure. Community colleges are accredited by the same agencies that accredit major universities.

5. Class size. Class sizes at community colleges are much smaller than those found in the freshman and sophomore years at public universities. Most classes at Bishop State have fewer than 18 students and provide more opportunities for students to interact with teachers and other students.

6. Support services. Community colleges offer a variety of services to help students. Services at Bishop State include counseling, advising, tutorials, financial aid, and library services. There are also computer labs on campus to make it easier for students to complete assignments.

7. Choices. Community colleges offer vocational programs and academic transfer programs. For example, Bishop State prepares many of the area’s registered nurses, physical therapy assistants, paramedics, HVAC technicians, and advanced-skill technicians. Of course, community colleges also offer courses that transfer into universities and count toward a bachelor's degree. Certificate programs can be completed in a year or less, while associate degree programs take two full years of course work.

8. Diversity. Community colleges serve the most diverse group of students in higher education. Students at Bishop State differ by age, ethnicity, degree of disability, socioeconomic status, and in many other ways. International students add yet another perspective. The opportunity to interact with and learn from students from many different backgrounds and with a variety of life experiences is a big advantage to starting at a community college.

9. Access to modern technology. Because of their strong partnerships with business and industry, community colleges often have cutting-edge equipment that is used by students in the classroom. Employers want job candidates who have experience with the equipment being used by industry, including the most modern computers and scientific instruments.

10. Good company. If you feel discouraged by the prospect of attending a local community college rather your first-choice university, here are some people who started in a community college: Joyce Luther Kennard, California Supreme Court justice; Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former United Nations (UN) ambassador; Jim Lehrer, news anchor; Robert Moses, choreographer and dance company founder; Sam Shepard, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright; James Sinegal, CEO of Costco; Maxwell Taylor, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; J. Craig Venter, person who mapped the human genome; Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general; Eileen Collins, first NASA female space shuttle commander; Nick Nolte, actor; Harry Reid, Senate majority leader; and Nolan Ryan, retired baseball pitcher. In addition, many thousands of nurses, skilled technicians, artists, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs got their start in community colleges.

Bishop State cures the homesick blues for this student

Bishop State cures the homesick blues for this student

LeShantel Wright was an active student at Mobile’s Blount High School. Whether it was being named Ms. Freshman, or serving as a class officer, she didn’t shy away from extra activities that require drive and ambition. But leaving home to attend a four-year college proved too much for the Mobile native, so when homesickness drove her home after one semester away, she enrolled at Bishop State and found just what she was looking for.

“At first I thought I would just take a couple of classes, and then transfer to South Alabama,” Wright said. “But I grew to love it at Bishop State. I got real close to the staff and faculty, and I just like the whole environment.”

Using the drive and ambition she had in high school, Wright has taken advantage of every opportunity given her, including recently auditioning for, and winning, the title of Ms. Bishop State. The competition was a pageant format, with a panel of judges evaluating the contestants on everything from poise and talent, to wit. It was a new passion that Wright developed at Bishop State—interpreting in American Sign Language—that won her the talent portion of the competition.

“I interpreted the song “Heroes” by Mariah Carey in American Sign Language,” she said. “I came out in an evening gown like I was going to sing, and when the music started, I signed. It was really fun.”

Becoming an interpreter in ASL was yet another twist in the road. Wright was going over the course schedule with an advisor, looking for an elective. She didn’t need the CPR or First Aid classes that were offered, as she was already certified as a lifeguard. She signed up for the ASL course, thinking she’d just take the one class and be done with it.

“Once I got into it (ASL), I thought ‘I love this!’ It was a whole other world,” she said.

Wright has now applied for Bishop State’s nursing program, hoping to enter in the fall. She’s working toward becoming a nurse practitioner, so eventually, she said, she’ll enroll in a four-year college.

This time, she’ll have more confidence and even a little help from family—Wright’s first cousin graduated from Bishop State, and is now doing his residency in medicine.

For now, though, she’s found her new home—close to home—at Bishop State.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Turn your sketches into “work” of art

One student designed a medallion used in a movie as the main character’s “magic medallion.” Another became a watchmaker in Germany. Some have opened their own jewelry stores or watch repair shops. Others go to work in factory service centers repairing jewelry and watches.

All completed the Jewelry Design and Watch Repair program at Bishop State.

This 18-month program (nine months for each certificate) has been around since 1965. Today, 14-16 students go through the dual program every year, and many go on to receive their national certification.

Stephen Lange, program instructor, said the Bishop State program is the only full-time program of its kind in the state of Alabama, and one of only 11 watch repair programs in the country.

It’s a program, however, that gives artists and designers a practical outlet, in terms of employment, for their talents and skills.

Each nine-month program begins in the Fall. Visit for more information about registration dates, financial aid deadlines, and a course schedule.

Training in American Sign Language increases job skills and job potential

LeShantel Wright has her sights set on working as a traveling nurse after she completes her nursing degree at Bishop State and gains experience working in the field for a couple of years. She’ll have another ace in her pocket, however, that will put her ahead of many others vying for healthcare jobs today—she’s trained in American Sign Language

“I know a lot of people who work in the medical field, and they talk about how difficult it is for a deaf patient to communicate with the nurses and doctors when an interpreter or family member is not available,” LeShantel said. “That’s got to be scary for the patient.”

LeShantel said she believes that becoming a sign language interpreter will give her an advantage in the healthcare job market.

“It’s a definite plus,’ she said. “There are not a lot of interpreters in the market, and there are a lot jobs out there where it would help if you could sign.”

At Bishop State, students may take ASL courses as electives, or obtain an associate’s degree in ASL.

Janice Rogers, ASL instructor at Bishop State, said anyone who wants to communicate with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing should take ASL. She also recommended that anyone working in public service, such as the legal system, law enforcement, fire department, etc, take ASL so they can better serve their customers until a qualified interpreter arrives.

Ms. Rogers said having more people trained in ASL is really about being better citizens and neighbors toward the deaf and hearing-impaired community.

“Wouldn’t it be absolutely wonderful (for a person who is deaf) to go into a store or restaurant and have someone assist you who could sign,” Ms. Rogers asked. “Deaf people have the same dreams, hopes, desires and experiences as hearing people. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say ‘hello’ and be able to sign back and ask “how are you’?”

Ms. Rogers said there is a great need for interpreters locally and nationally.

“There are not enough qualified ASL interpreters to fill the many requests for interpreting services,” she said.

There are currently 25 students enrolled in the ASL program at Bishop State, and hundreds of others have been trained in ASL throughout the years.

Registration for the Fall Semester at Bishop State is August 11-12. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcome to the Bishop State blog.

We are excited to launch this official interactive communications tool for Bishop State Community College. We will use Bishopblog to bring you up-to-date news and information about the many interesting happenings at Bishop State. From interviews with our instructors, to information about programs, registration and financial aid, I believe you’ll find our topics and interviews to be relevant and significant.

Our goal at Bishop State is to offer the best and most affordable education locally. Whether you want to take courses that can be transferred to a four-year institution or complete a technical program that can lead directly to job placement or advancement, we present opportunities that can lead to your success. All you have to do is take that first step by applying.

On-site registration for the summer 2010 term is May 21, 2010. On-site registration for the fall term is Aug. 11-12, 2010.

Here’s to your education and your future.

James P. Lowe