By Ryan Rutledge in News
Clark College students say they feel well-prepared for their future – whether it takes them to another institution or straight into the workforce.
That’s according to a survey conducted earlier this month by student journalists at Clark who publish the Independent.
The survey lent perspective for a panel at the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast, hosted by The Columbian today at 7 a.m. at the Hilton Hotel.
This is the first time the event has included a student panel, titled “Voices of Our Youth.”
Students from Washington State University Vancouver, Clark College, Vancouver Public Schools and Evergreen Public Schools comprise the panel moderated by Clark President Bob Knight.
“We were approached by The Columbian and Gordon reached out to us and asked us if we would be willing to participate in the breakfast,” said Independent Editor-in-Chief Aleksi Lepisto.
Lepisto said The Columbian was seeking student viewpoints on their employment prospects in Clark County and the preparation Clark College is providing them.
About 3 percent of the 13,096 full and part-time students enrolled for the Winter term participated in the seven-question survey.
Students in history, art, engineering, communications, foreign language and English courses completed the surveys.
“We conducted the survey so that there would be a broad range of students,” said the student editor. “We thought this was the fair way to do it.”
Of the 364 students polled, 242 reported they felt “well prepared” for their future, whether to transfer to a four-year school or enter the job market. Of those polled, 301 said they plan to transfer, and 24 said they plan to look for work in Clark County.
Chad Lomax, a mechanical engineering student, said his experience at Clark “doesn’t feel like high school busy work. It feels like we’re learning what executives would want us to.”
About 80 percent of those polled said they are working toward an academic transfer degree and another 10 percent are working toward a career and technical degree or certificate, such as Business Technology or Early Childhood Education.
Of the students polled, 161 said they were 18 years of age or younger, the second largest group of students polled. Overwhelmingly, 114 of those students answered “well prepared” regarding their future with 134 planning to stay in Clark County to look for work.
Clark is the largest Running Start school in the state with 1,846 students for Winter term.
Running Start is a dual-enrollment program that enables high school juniors and seniors to finish high school and attend college at the same time, according to Clark’s Associate Director of Running Start Linda Calvert.
One Running Start student said she valued the opportunity to get ahead by taking college courses prior to graduating high school. She said she felt ready for a four-year school.
While many said they felt prepared, few actually reported using resources available to them like resume building workshops and job placement services. “About 10 percent actually used the career resources offered by the college,” Lepisto said. “It’s interesting to see such a disparity between people using services and people feeling prepared.”
Lepisto, 27, started college at Clark two years ago and said he feels his experiences at the community college have prepared him for the future. He noted, however, that like most who responded to the survey, he’s not made use of career resources the college offers students.