By Dr. Jay K. Box
President, Kentucky Community and Technical College System
As Kentuckians ponder their options for college this fall, I’d like to offer a suggestion: Look no further than your local community college. I know you are wrestling with concerns about health and safety, so for those who want to continue to stay healthy at home, the 16 colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) are a good answer.
I’m hearing from state and national groups just how concerned students, prospective students and parents are about health and safety. Many are so concerned that they’re considering taking a gap year. I urge you not to put your education on hold. Talk to your local community college first.
I know paying for college is always a concern, but never more so than now because so many folks have lost their jobs. Most people know our tuition is the lowest in the state. We offer an abundance of scholarships, grants and other financial aid, too. You might be surprised to know that two-thirds of our students have no out-of-pocket expenses for college because of the financial aid available. So, fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to see what you qualify for.
For those who want to attend a university but have concerns about health and safety this fall, I want to make clear that our classes transfer easily to our four-year partners. There’s legislation that makes sure of this.
KCTCS is the largest provider of workforce training in Kentucky, so our colleges are the perfect choice for adults or recent high school graduates who want to enroll in a short-term program and go to work quickly. I’m talking about credentials that can be earned in weeks, not years.
Our colleges work with local employers to understand their needs and develop programs to fit those needs. This helps ensure our students walk out of college prepared to step into the workforce in their community.
Additionally, we offer programs that are in demand, like nursing and other health care options, IT and advanced manufacturing. All of these and many more are covered by the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship, which provides free tuition for certain programs that are deemed in demand by the state. You can learn about those programs and the scholarship on our website.
As the world begins to reopen and businesses are working their way back, KCTCS colleges are essential for businesses. Our Workforce Solutions teams work with thousands of businesses to help them upskill or certify their employees in the latest industry specific credentials. So, if your business needs customized training, your local college can help with that.
Finally, I want to assure Kentuckians that your community colleges are taking every precaution recommended by the CDC and the state to ensure our facilities are as safe as possible. Here are just a few of the things we’re doing.
- Each college has named at Healthy at Work Officer to oversee all health and safety on our campuses.
- Masks will be required for everyone.
- Classrooms will be spaced for social distancing.
- Floor signage will remind everyone of social distancing, and other signage is visible throughout our buildings to reinforce CDC recommendations.
- All employees will take training before returning to campus and do a daily online health check to make sure they are healthy before coming to work.
- Students will be asked to do a temperature self-check every day before coming on campus.
- Some common areas will be closed to avoid large groups congregating.
- Campus staff will continue to clean and sanitize surfaces, doors and other areas that are frequently touched.
As you or your family members contemplate options for college this fall, I hope you’ll put your local community college at the top of your list. Please trust that we have everything you need to get a good education and still stay healthy at home.