As a student, I understood that in order to be successful, I had to predict how I would be evaluated. I found course descriptions to be useful but not an adequate predictor of what would be included in the testing material. I found the syllabus to be a relatively good learning contract but often without the details needed to earn a high grade. I needed to know what was expected of me at the end of the course. Gradually, I learned that a better method of learning the material was by reading the introductory and summary paragraphs first. Then, I attempted to answer the review questions. The questions that I couldn’t answer indicated where I should focus my studies.
What should a good student know in order to become a successful graduate? How does the needs of the different programs and courses differ? What skill sets must you acquire to start your career then make adequate progress in the first few years? What courses and lessons are essential and what is nice to know? Can students exempt a course if they demonstrate adequate knowledge? How will you know when course material has been mastered? Some programs provide an easy answer by offering licensure or professional certifications which show mastery of knowledge. But whether a program offers a certification or not, all of Albany Tech’s programs require students to demonstrate what they can do before students are considered career ready. Our college requires that each student begins to develop a career portfolio during their first class of their first semester. The portfolios provide applicable certification as well as demonstrations of knowledge and skills. Portfolio development continues until graduation. We attempt to prepare students on their first day of classes for their best possible outcome after the last day of class.
However, we ask our employers to do the opposite. We urge employers to consider selecting students for employment at the very start of their educational experience. We encourage employers to offer apprenticeships and paid internships. We ask them to inform new students of their expectations and request that they help us provide the expectations of their corporate culture. We encourage them to review each applicant’s work ethics grades and to complete warranty claims when applicable. ATC calls on employers to assist us to conduct mock interviews and to evaluate student capstone projects and portfolios. The results help to ensure graduates know what is expected of them. Employers who participate have more confidence in the students that they hire.
By the end of their time at Albany Technical College, graduates have very likely demonstrated skills sets and have the work ethics required to start a career. They have embraced at least one organization’s culture during an internship, work study, or an apprenticeship experience. Our students and employers both start with the end in mind.