At the first of a series of “Aspire” events planned throughout the summer, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) President Mark Ojakian and State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna Wentzell today called on residents of all stages of life to enroll in Connecticut’s community colleges.
“Community colleges not only offer the most cost-effective educational option, by far, and do so close to home, but they also have some of the highest quality educational opportunities anywhere, regardless of sticker price,” President Ojakian said. “A community college education can truly be the pathway to a better life, and that can start today. In fact, all students apply for free, and most students attend our community colleges for free. Regardless of your background, you can aspire to a college education; it is within reach.”
The Aspire events are jointly hosted by CSCU and SDE and are aimed at encouraging graduating high school students and others who may not have considered a postsecondary education to enroll at one of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges.
“More students than ever before are graduating from high school with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in college, career and civic life. This is a sign that the smart education strategies Connecticut has embarked upon are making a real difference for children and families in this state,” said Commissioner Wentzell. “The elimination of the application fee is one of many exciting advances in education that are benefitting Connecticut high school students wishing to pursue an affordable in-state higher education experience. It is truly a testament to the hard work and commitment of so many that when we partner we can achieve results that lead to an increase in student success and entrance into a post-secondary institution.”
In May, the Board of Regents eliminated the application fee for Connecticut’s community colleges. While the cost of college is a primary concern for incoming students and their families, in Connecticut and across the country, nearly 60 percent of Connecticut’s community college students go for free, through federal Pell Grants, state Roberta Willis Scholarship funding, institutional aid, or a combination thereof.
“As an undergrad and a Naval veteran, I was unsure on what the next stage of my life would be,” said James Vicki, a Manchester Community College graduate and current EDAC employee. “I found an accessible path to a great career through the Connecticut community college program, and it was affordable on my budget. I applied myself and within less than a year, I had the knowledge and skills to provide for myself and anything else that the future holds. I truly believe that for those with the willingness to learn and the ability to focus on their goals, community colleges provide the best option towards a great future.”
“Community colleges are an affordable way for so many people to continue on the path of higher education,” said Congressman John B. Larson. “In Connecticut, we are lucky to have a large community college system that offers many different pathways for students. I encourage everyone – from graduating high school students who aren’t sure what’s next, to veterans returning from serving our nation, to adults considering a career change – to consider Connecticut’s community colleges.”
In addition to President Ojakian, Commissioner Wentzell, and Mr. Vicki, Connecticut Technical Education and Career System Superintendent Jeffrey Wihbey, Capital Community College CEO Duncan Harris, Manchester Community College Interim Associate Director for Admissions Elijah Oliver participated in the event. Additional Aspire events are planned throughout the summer at various locations across the state.
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