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Nicolet College - Student success the goal of Nicolet partnerships with PK-12 districts


Student success the goal of
Nicolet partnerships with PK-12 districts


Feb. 17, 2012
The road to a college education doesn't start when a student fills out an application for admission. The path for many actually starts years earlier.

To help smooth this pathway to higher education, Nicolet has launched numerous different initiatives designed to build tight partnerships between the college and the 11 PK-12 school districts in the Nicolet district.

"We focus on the single goal of preparing students for college and successful careers," said Nicolet College President Elizabeth Burmaster. "This ranges from providing students with career exploration opportunities, to helping prepare them academically, to giving them the chance to jump-start their college education by earning college credits while still in high school. We do everything we can to stack the deck in students' favor."

In all, Nicolet has in place nearly two dozen different programs, activities and services that are aimed at preparing younger students for success in college.

These include:

College in the High School Classroom

Hundreds of Northwoods high school students earn college credits every year without ever leaving their school.

"This gives them a great jump-start on college," said Susan Kordula, director of Admissions and PK-16 Pathways at Nicolet. "By earning credits before they formally enter college, they shorten the amount of time they actually spend in college which can translate into a fairly significant cost savings."

Every year about 200 other high school students earn both high school and Nicolet College credits through the College in the Classroom program. These classes are taught by college-certified instructors in the high schools and cover Accounting, Marketing, Information Technology, Microsoft Office, Welding, Auto Technology, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, and Medical Terminology.

Nicolet also offers a Youth Options program, where high school students take college classes on the Nicolet campus.

In the Rhinelander and Tomahawk high school and the Lac du Flambeau Education Center, Nicolet offers Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) classes. So far in these new partnership nearly 50 students have received this professional certification through Nicolet classes held at these locations.

"Now the goal is to expand this and offer CNA classes in other high schools," said Lenore Mangles, dean of Health Occupations at Nicolet. She added that many of these graduates have used the CNA certificate they earned in high school as a stepping stone to higher Health Occupations degrees and diplomas at Nicolet.

PreCollege Academies

science academyLast fall Nicolet launched the first of three PreCollege Academies for high school freshmen and sophomores. Each was designed to help students explore careers and hone the skills necessary to be successful in college.

The first academy, which focused on environmental sciences and digital video production, is being followed by two more, one focusing on engineering and the other health occupations.

All three academies were at or near their maximum enrollments of around 25 students, despite being held on five consecutive Saturday mornings, Kordula said.

"These students really want to learn and are very engaged," Kordula added.

College Camp

This perennial favorite gives Northwoods sixth through ninth graders the chance to explore numerous different careers in fun, hands-on classes held mornings for one week in the summer.

"Learning should be fun," Burmaster said. "When it's fun, students are engaged, and when they are engaged, they are learning."

Examples of classes have included Lake Ecology, Solar Sprint, Sports Engineering, Crime Scene Investigation, Middle School Marketplace, Joining the Geek Squad Can Be Cool, and Rock and Roll 101.

Northwoods Career Fair

In April, Nicolet is partenrshing with Northland Pines High School and the School to Careers Consortium to put on a job fair at the high school in Eagle River. More than 70 employers are expected to attend. "This will be a great opportunity for students to explore different careers and actually talk with potential future employers," Kordula said.

The event will be open to all high school students in the Nicolet district.

Lego Camp

lego campEngineering, problem-solving and communication skills were the focus of Nicolet's first Lego Camp held last summer for first through sixth graders. The half-day, week-long event had students building a variety of creations using specially designed Lego kits complete with electric motors.

The older children where challenged with creating robots which they then sent into battle to see whose was the most nimble and durable.

"They had a great time cheering on their favorites. It really was a lot of fun," said Jodi Fox, camp and Continuing Education coordinator at Nicolet.

Dates for the next Lego Camp this summer will be announced in the near future.

Campus Tours and Visits

Numerous times throughout the year the college invites students to campus to learn about what the college has to offer and to give them an overall feel for what it is like at Nicolet.

"Time and again we hear from students how nervous they were coming onto campus let alone walking through any of the buildings," Kordula said. "To be successful, it's important for students to be comfortable with their surroundings. All of the tours, open houses and campus visits provide students with information about the college as well as letting them get a sense for what it is like at Nicolet. These are important for helping a student decide if Nicolet is right for them."

Welding, Auto Tech and Carpentry Competitions

carpentry competitionEvery year dozens of high school students exploring careers in the trades converge on the Nicolet campus to test their abilities in friendly competitions.

Along with fine-tuning their skills, "students also learn what it takes to be successful in these fields and what kind of training they will need," Kordula said. "They see that it takes a lot more then hammering a nail in straight or making a good weld. It takes solid math skills, good communication skills, plus they have to know how to work as a team and solve problems."