Winter 2012 |
The smart choice: MCC, a nonprofit college
For-profit colleges pose questions
Tucked in a strip center at 24th and Vinton streets, MCC Express – Vinton isn’t
your conventional college campus. With just four technology-filled classrooms and a computer lab, MCC Express – Vinton is the newest—and smallest—of MCC’s locations. But its reach is anything but small.
As a one-stop shop for Adult Education services, MCC Express – Vinton addresses a critical need for GED, English-as-a-Second Language and transition services in Omaha. Nearly 25,000 people ages 18–44 in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area lack a high school diploma. MCC Express – Vinton helps bridge that gap by offering ESL and literacy classes, GED prep courses and specialized staff who can guide students through individualized career and educational planning—all under one roof.
This winter, MCC stands to serve even more adult education students. Following the closure of Omaha Public Schools’ Adult Education program, MCC was awarded a $250,000 adult education grant from the Nebraska Department of Education—making the College a primary provider of such services in Omaha. The grant allowed MCC to expand GED prep classes to 17 community locations, and ESL classes increased to 15 locations.
Driving the effort is MCC’s commitment to linking education and skill-building to employment, job advancement and sustainable incomes. In today’s economy,
getting a GED isn’t enough. Students need additional training or postsecondary education to create a livelihood. “That’s why it does make sense to have adult education and GED within a community college,” said Sue Raftery, MCC’s dean
of literacy and workplace skills. “If we can strengthen that bridge from GED classes
to the next step, whether it is access to education at the community college level or
a career, it’s a perfect partnership.”
MCC Express – Vinton focuses on this kind of transition support. Its smaller size means it is more accessible to adults who might be intimidated by more traditional college settings. The front desk staff is bilingual. In the computer lab, a staff member is always present to help students and community members navigate educational software such as Rosetta Stone for ESL learners. They can also help someone complete a career interest survey or fill out an online job application.
Because faculty and specialized staff are just steps away from each other, they can better collaborate and be more responsive to students’ needs—and offer the personalized attention and encouragement many adult education students need to succeed. The ultimate goal: Helping students realize that adult education is just the first milestone on their path.
“It’s not just about getting their GED,” said Mona Dowding, MCC’s director of adult education. “It’s about encouraging our students to be contributing members of their community, whether that’s being able to get a better job or strengthening