Removing barriers: New OCtech student services program helps students, prepare for college, career

2012-12-08T01:00:00Z Removing barriers: New OCtech student services program helps students, prepare for college, careerBy DALE LINDER-ALTMAN, T&D Staff Writer The Times and Democrat
December 08, 2012 1:00 am  • 

Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College opened the door this fall to a new student services program that’s already proven to be a success.

“We put together the Academic Success and Career Center to help students prepare for the skills they in need in college and career,” manager Katie Haigler said.

ASCC (pronounced ask) offers training in job skills and financial planning as well as individualized tutoring in whatever area the students need help, she said. Some students need help with academics while others just don’t know how to study, Haigler said.

“We try to help them with whatever their barriers are,” she said. “We not only teach them what to learn, we teach them how to learn it.”

As part of career preparation, ASCC offers workshops on topics such as time management, how to search for jobs, resume writing, interview skills and job readiness skills to both students and the public, Haigler noted.

In the beginning, the classes met every other Wednesday, but participation was so high that the classes are now being held at noon and at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday, Haigler said.

Julia Ayers, a nontraditional student from Cope, recently attended an ASCC workshop to get some assistance with creating a resume.

She said she’s looking for a part time job and needed to update her resume.

“The workshop helped me with the wording and format,” she said.

She also found that she needed to rearrange her information and shorten the document, Ayers said.

While she hasn’t needed help with tutoring, Ayers said she finds ASCC a good place to study. It’s quiet and has a place to plug her computer in, she said.

Ayers said she’s had a very good overall experience at OCtech. Everyone is so ready to offer help, all the way from the teachers to the custodians, she said.

According to Haigler, ASCC will also be working with OCtech’s Accessible Support Services and Instruction for Sustainable Transition program, which provides technological education and career training that lead to certification for unemployed and incumbent workers.

ASCC will work with these students to make sure technology graduates “not only have their certification, but they also have the skill to get and keep a job,” she said.

Job readiness training will teach students about the need to maintain a positive attitude and how to behave on the job. It focuses on things as simple as how to work as a team and the need to arrive on time for work, she said.

“Some students just don’t know that, and they’ve never been told,” Haigler said.

ASCC also provides financial literacy training for students, and Haigler and two other staff members have received special training as financial counselors.

“We train them how to survive financially — how to balance checkbooks, budgeting, how to plan ahead and the whole gamut to understanding loans and interest so they are aware of what they’re getting into when they take out a loan,” she said.

In addition, ASCC provides students with information about benefits like food stamps that are open to them and helps them file applications for benefits online. Students can actually go through www.thebenefitbank.org to file for benefits, Haigler noted.

“We tell students that if they need help while they’re students at Octech to just ASCC (ask),” she said.

The weekly workshops on topics such as time management, how to search for jobs, interview skills and job readiness skills are open to both students and the public. The last class before Christmas vacation will be held on Dec. 13. Classes will resume on Jan. 9.

A job fair for members of the OCtech family will be held early in January. For more information, call 803-535-1347.

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529.

Copyright 2014 The Times and Democrat. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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