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Is your son or daughter thinking about college? Is he or she a whiz at science, math and technology? Find out why an ATE program might be a good fit.

Community Colleges: A Great Path to Success

One obstacle to the wider acceptance of ATE programs is the perception that community colleges are a lesser option to a four-year college or university. But educators and industry professionals argue that's not the case, and ATE programs are a big reason why.

"I think what the ATE program does is it makes community college the destination of choice," says former assistant secretary of education Diane Auer Jones. "It makes people understand that community college isn't where you go when nothing else works out. Community college is where you go when you're smart enough to realize that you can get a very high-quality education for a very low cost."   

Jones notes that part of the value of a community college education comes from the experience and dedication of its teachers. "When somebody makes the decision to teach at a community college, they're making that decision because what they love is teaching. If they loved researching, they'd go work at a research university."

And prospective employers appreciate that many ATE teachers have worked in industry."A lot of the professors actually have real-world experience; they've actually been out in businesses," says Ken Parker, plant manager of Honda logistics subsidiary South East Express. "They've worked for companies, and they understand what the real world is about, and they can apply those techniques in the classroom."

In many high-tech industries, a two-year degree from an ATE program is considered equal to or better than a four-year degree. "It's a myth in parents' minds that it's important to get the four-year degree, says John Kimbrough of plastic resin manufacturer Wellman, Inc. "In actual reality, the two-year degree gets you the job and gets you in the workforce."    

And if a student wants to continue on for a bachelor's degree, a community college is a great place to start. "Community college credits are just as good as a four-year college, and they all transfer to the same place," says high school and college instructor and ATETV advisor Lane Warner. Some employers will even help pay for their workers to finish their bachelor's degrees part-time.

Guide Your Children, and Start Early

Worried that your child will spend four years in college and still not know what they want to do for a career? Remember that they still need your help, even if sometimes they don't act like it.

"Children are children. They need to be led in the right direction," says Jill Heiden, vice president of human resources for ESAB Group, Inc., which makes welding and cutting equipment. "They need to understand that in today's day and age, a technical education is just as important, and possibly even more worthy of a student, than a four-year college degree."

Heiden thinks that parents and kids should start thinking about careers even before high school. Miriam Swiler, vice president of human resources and public relations at Irix Pharmaceuticals, agrees:

"Kids are never too young to start looking at careers. The technical colleges are always open to tours, to parents, to the students themselves. Even in elementary school, they can get a good idea of what these careers are about. They can get a good idea about the curriculum, what they have to know before they get there, what kind of courses to take in high school to prepare them for that."

Even if your child is older, don't worry; they still need your guidance. Take them to see an ATE program near you; you can find a list on ATETV.org. Is your child undecided on their career plans? An ATE program that will let him or her try out a career at a fraction of the cost of a four-year college.

Want to share your child's ATE story? Submit a post to ATETV's blog by emailing blog@atetv.org. Please note, however, that all blog submissions are subject to the editorial review and approval of ATETV.