GO CAREERS goes virtual

By Bernie Hale

An accelerated degree program at a Kentucky college is adapting to remote learning without sacrificing the supports students need for success.

The GO CAREERS program at Owensboro Community and Technical College (OCTC) is going virtual this fall — but still keeping it personal.

GO CAREERS launched in 2016 and is a collaborative effort between OCTC, Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce. An advantage of the program is its accelerated degree path to an associate in applied science degree in business administration. And when the next GO CAREERS cohort begins in September, they’ll be taking courses virtually, attending courses online just two mornings a week.

Students will graduate in five semesters and the degree is transfer ready, if students are interested in earning a bachelor’s degree. Throughout the program, students get help from a success coach who works with the cohort, and helps them navigate college entrance requirements, and any academic or personal issues along the way.

The GO CAREERS program has been highly successful with 56 students who have completed the program, boasting a 96 percent retention rate. Most students graduate with little to no debt.

“The reasons for the success are that we have great instructors, provide excellent supports throughout the program, and utilize the cohort model,” said Cindy Fiorella, vice president of the OCTC Workforce Solutions division. “OCTC was the first in the state to expand this model beyond manufacturing and we knew it had great potential, but even we were surprised at how successful this program has been. Not only do we offer concierge style support throughout, but the cohort model creates a dynamic and supportive learning environment for the participating students.”

The program also helps businesses upskill current employees with little to no cost.

Ashley Cline earned her degree in the very first cohort of GO CAREERS. At the time, she was an administrative assistant to David Little, executive vice president of consumer banking & business operations at U.S. Bank.

When asked about the GO Careers program, Little said, “GO Careers was intriguing for us from the beginning and we could apply the same development program for financial services as we saw was successful in manufacturing. Our read three years in has been a definitive yes! We remain focused on developing future leaders in our operations and GO Careers blends the job success and development with the educational knowledge and experience to build our leaders right here in Owensboro.”

Through the program, Cline gained the confidence to take advantage of new opportunities. She’s now a business operations analyst at U.S. Bank.

“Being able to work and go to school at the same time worked out great,” Cline said. “It proved to be challenging at first, but after the first semester it got a lot better. I knew what was expected of me and put forth the same effort as I did with my job. The amount of support received from my family, friends, co-workers, OCTC and instructors made all the difference in the world. It was hard work but honestly it was well worth it to me.”

OCTC is hosting GO CAREERS information sessions later this month for companies and students.

Read more about the program here.

Bernie Hale

is the director of PR and marketing at Owensboro Community & Technical College in Owensboro, Kentucky.