What does it take to get a middle skill job? The stories below illustrate the power of a little bit of help strategically focused on the transition into college-level course work. Both Allen and Jennifer participated in the JVS Pre-College Program, funded by SkillWorks, which helped them overcome a significant barrier to attaining postsecondary credentials.
Twelve years out of high school, Allen Guerrero wanted to go back to school to become a medical coder. Unfortunately, although he tried, Allen was not able to pass the mathematics portion of the college placement test and was therefore unable to take the courses that he needed to pursue his career path.
Allen found help by enrolling in the JVS Pre-College Math Class in Fall 2009. The class helped him refresh the math skills he learned in high school and he passed the college placement test. Filled with new confidence, he enrolled into Bunker Hill Community College in the Spring of 2010 in hopes of obtaining a certificate in medical coding.
”The things I learned in this pre-college program go beyond just mathematics,” says Allen. “I learned that it is never too late to retool, refocus, try hard, and learn new skills.” Allen has just finished his first semester of college, earning all A’s in his classes and plans to take English and Math next semester. Allen is well on his way to reaching his goal of becoming a medical coder. “I encourage anyone who wants to achieve their goals faster to follow in my footsteps.”
Jennifer Cox has been employed at Hebrew Senior Life as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for the last two years and is part of the Hebrew Senior Life’s nursing career ladder program. Jennifer enrolled in the JVS Pre-College Math Class prior to enrolling in college in the Fall of 2008.
Jennifer says the JVS program was effective because she shared a personal connection with her instructor. Jennifer says, “The same person helped me with every single session and understood the areas that I needed to work on. My instructor at JVS took the time to help when I needed more time to understand the material.”
“I learned many new skills at the program such as how to study and take notes effectively, how to break down math problems, and how to challenge myself.” Jennifer passed her college placement test and finally had the chance to go to college with the skills needed to succeed. Jennifer received her LPN Certificate from MassBay Community College in July 2010. Eventually she wants to go back to college to become an RN.
“I highly recommend the JVS Pre-College program to everyone because it was so helpful in helping me learn how to manage my time, get organized, and be a better student. It has really allowed me to take the right steps toward my goal of becoming an R.N.”
The path to acquiring a middle skill job is not easy but is definitely feasible. As we can see from these stories, key aspects of success include a personal connection with tutors/coaches, flexible and condensed pre-college courses suitable for working adults, and industry-focused curriculum that allows participants to move toward their career goals. As a result of these and other program elements as well as hard work, both Allen and Jennifer are on their way to achieving the credentials needed for a middle skill job.
To learn more about the JVS pre-college program, please visit www.jvs-boston.org