MARIETTA, Ohio (July 7, 2016)—When her final semester draws to a close later this month, Jessica Gundlach will be Broadway bound. But as she pulls her car from the curb loaded with all that she owns, she’ll look in her rearview mirror and smile. She knows that she’s not pursuing her dream with reckless abandon. She’s one smart cookie who’s headed for the big city with a serious plan for success. The hard work and dedication she’s invested in pursuing her dream are what landed her in the spotlight at Washington State Community College (WSCC) as July’s Student of the Month....
MARIETTA, Ohio (June 24, 2016)— As the Director of Admissions at Washington State Community College (WSCC), Carrie Thrash has probably heard every possible excuse as to why someone can’t commit to enrolling in college—some are legitimate reasons, others are not. Many of the reasons have a common denominator—fear.
“Fear can be a great motivator and it can be a big barrier for folks,” acknowledged Thrash. She confirmed it isn’t just the fear of the unknown, but also perceived fear. Jeannette Jaraucaro graduated from WSCC in May and in the speech she delivered to her graduating class she freely admitted that she was overwhelmed at the thought of returning to school. She worried about finances, schedules, classes, and, after being out of school for more than a decade she was concerned, “What if I’m the oldest person in the class?”
Jaraucaro said these concerns were “part of an inner monologue for nearly 15 years,” until she finally conquered her fear and enrolled in college. “The confidence I felt making that decision remains today,” she told her fellow graduates. “I was creating room for new opportunities in my life, both professionally and personally.”
Thrash confirmed Jaraucaro isn't unique in her concerns. “Many people just aren’t sure how to make it all work out because they’re balancing many things.” However, confronting the anxiety is a step toward success, she assured . "Sometimes you just have to face your fears, but remember, it's okay to take lots of little steps to get to your destination."
She went onto explain that its common for adult students to begin to consider college following a major life event—such as divorce, job displacement, children starting school or empty nest. WSCC has a process in place to guide those who are at this fork in the road. First, talk with an admissions professional. “Our job is to help them see what all of their options are and then help them decide if their expectations are realistic,” Thrash said.
And after that conversation, if the admissions department has piqued your interest, WSCC has information sessions scheduled throughout the summer. This is an opportunity to visit campus, get an overview of college and the programs WSCC offers, as well as learn the steps involved with the enrollment process. “They just need to call 740.568.1900 and to let us know they are coming,” noted Thrash.
She also encourages people to talk to financial aid during the visit. The cost of an education is often the factor that brings a person’s plans to a halt. Shannon Venezia, Director of Financial Aid and Government Relations, stated that 75% of all students at WSCC are eligible for some type of financial aid, whether it be federal, institutional or foundation dollars-- 70% of which receive the Pell Grant, need-based federal grants provided to low-income students to promote access to college.
Venezia noted that eligibility for most financial aid is based on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). This is a required form to apply for all federal aid programs, many state programs and even institutional aid programs. She explained that the financial aid department can provide assistance and insight on the FAFSA application process. “We serve as a resource to provide financial advisement and guidance during the application process to ensure students have access to all the assistance available.”
WSCC has done its best to remove the stress and pressure about deciding to enroll in college. Thrash explained that a person can talk to admissions, come to an information session, and even submit an application yet still not be obligated to enroll in classes. “We just want our students to be able to make an informed decision before they commit because school isn’t easy. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication." Making college accessible isn’t the ultimate goal at WSCC, Thrash assures. “The capstone for us [WSCC] is student success. We truly want to see our students graduate and leave here as leaders who feel confident in what they’ve learned.”
For students who want to ease into the college experience, Washington State also offers a free 10-week intense brush-up course that focuses primarily on strengthening math skills. It is designed to give students the solid foundation necessary to be successful in college. The course, called ACES, also provides an overview on study skills and time management skills that are essential for success.
More information about the enrollment process including financial aid and admissions are available online at wscc.edu or by calling 740.568.1900.
For 44 years, Washington State Community College has provided residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley the opportunity to realize dreams, to enhance skills, and to broaden understanding. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to move your life in a new direction, Washington State has the classes to suit your needs. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.