Archive for the ‘degrees’ Category

6-29-10_096-XLIn response to local industry needs, St. Petersburg College announces two newly accredited associate in science degrees: Biotechnology Laboratory Technology and Biomedical Engineering Technology. The programs, which recently received Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC) accreditation, began at the beginning of the Summer and Fall 2016 semester.

“The biotechnology program at St. Petersburg College was specifically tailored and designed from the very beginning so that students get the exact skills that employees want,” said Michael Shamblott, a member of SPC’s Biotechnology Laboratory Technology Advisory Committee and associate professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine. “I know that if I hire graduates of SPC’s program, they will be able to perform in a lab and help me be productive.”

The Biotechnology Laboratory Technology A.S. Degree prepares graduates to work as a biological technician, a job that paid $34,500 in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs can be found in clinical research, the pharmaceutical industry or for biotechnology and biomanufacturing firms.

Program Director Kathy Siegler says students are ready for the technical requirements of laboratory jobs because they get hands-on skills.

“They will be very well prepared to jump right into a biotechnology laboratory and be a productive employee,” Siegler said. “They will be better prepared to work in a biotechnology laboratory than a student with a four-year science degree.”

The Biomedical Engineering Technology A.S. Degree prepares graduates to work as a medical equipment repairer, a job with a median salary in the Tampa MSA of $40,560, as of May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graduates can find job opportunities at health care facilities, companies that manufacture, install, manage and service medical equipment and public health and government agencies.

Program Director Lara Sharp said that the training biomedical students receive in the program is a direct reflection of what they will see in a job, and the jobs are good.

“Biomedical Engineering Technology is an opportunity to enter a growing field with good pay that allows a student to work with technology that can make a person’s life better,” Sharp said.

“For someone who is interested in working in a medical device field, I would definitely recommend St. Petersburg College because their program is very applicable to what you’re actually going to do in the industry,” said James Moore, Director of Operations at CardioCommand, a certified medical device manufacturer based in Tampa. “Nationwide, there is a skills gap in regards to technical skills. The programs that St. Petersburg College have put in place are right on target with regards to what we need for biomedical technicians.”

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alumni-skillsSt. Petersburg College alumni rank fifth in the nation and first in the state of Florida, among two-year colleges, for possessing the most valuable job skills, according to a recent report released by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, an independent, nonprofit think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The study, entitled “Beyond College Rankings, a Value Added Approach to Assessing Two and Four Year Schools,” used data from multiple government and private data sources, including the Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Education, LinkedIn, and Burning Glass, a labor market intelligence firm. The study explored the median mid-career salary, earning potential, and student loan repayment rates of graduates.

SPC ranked fifth for two-year colleges in skill sets that garner higher wages, as reported on LinkedIn. The professional social networking site has 99 million user profiles in the United States alone, and is one of many emerging websites that collects data on salary and skills, some with institutional detail for millions of graduates.

The value of alumni skills is reported under occupational earnings power and represents the labor market value of the 25 most common skills listed on the LinkedIn resumes of college graduates. These skills were matched with data, compiled by Burning Glass, on skills and salaries advertised in millions of job vacancies.

For SPC graduates, the value of alumni skills came in at $65,499 compared to a national average of $61,048 (for graduates of two-year colleges), while the SPC graduate median mid-career salary was $54,000 compared to the national average of $52,945 (for graduates of two-year colleges).

“At. St. Petersburg College, we are working very closely with our business partners in the Tampa Bay area to align our programs with workforce needs so our students are prepared to compete for high wage jobs when they graduate,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “Our number one goal at St. Petersburg College is helping improve our students’ lives, and increasing earning power is a surefire way to do that. This study helps validate those efforts to give our students the skills and tools they need to be successful in today’s job market.”

The Brookings report provides insight into how well colleges prepare students for high-paying careers and is the first to provide “value-added” measures for a broad range of two- and four-year colleges. The new data available helped the report authors develop new ways of measuring the economic value that U.S. colleges provide.

By using non-traditional tools and analyzing data on economic outcomes for graduates, the Brookings report moves beyond other college rankings by focusing on how well colleges contribute to student economic success, rather than simply their ability to attract top students and the preparedness of such students.

“These college-specific data can be used to learn about, evaluate, and improve college performance,” said Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rothwell, co-author of the report. “Colleges serve very diverse populations. The advantage of measuring value-added is that it adjusts a school’s ranking based on the type of college and the characteristics of its student body.”

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SPC graduate Bryan Calhoun works at LumaStream, an LED manufacturing company in St. Petersburg.

SPC graduate Bryan Calhoun works at LumaStream, an LED manufacturing company in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg College joins the Florida Department of Education in celebrating Florida Career and Technical Education Month. In honor of the observance, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a proclamation that highlights career and technical education opportunities throughout the state.

SPC’s workforce associate degrees and certificate programs prepare workers for jobs that are among the fastest growing in a number of industries. It is one of 12 state and community colleges in the state that are part of the Florida TRADE Consortium, delivering accelerated training that leads to internships and jobs in manufacturing.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Employment Projections Data, by the year 2022 Pinellas County employment in the following careers is expected to grow by the following estimated percentage:

The college also offers training programs for nearly half of the jobs listed in The 100 Best Jobs of 2015 report by US News & World Report.

According to the Florida Department of Education, more than 500,000 Florida students are enrolled in secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs and job preparation programs.

“It’s critical that we provide Florida students a high-quality education that will prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century,” Scott said. “Career and technical education programs across the state are helping our students gain the skills and training they need to be successful now and in the future. Increased funding will help our schools better respond to the workforce needs in their communities.”

In January, Scott announced the 2015-16 “Keep Florida Working” budget proposal, which includes a $30 million for a new STEM-focused occupation workforce training initiative and $5 million to incentivize $10,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees at state colleges.

It has been a focus of SPC to make higher education more affordable and results-oriented. In November 2012, the college became the first state college to accept the “Governor’s $10,000 Degree Challenge” and created a $10,000 tech management degree program.

The governor’s proposed budget also includes a $41 million tax cut for college textbooks and an expansion to the Bright Futures Scholarship program. The January 2015 Florida College System newsletter says the price of college textbooks has continued to increase over the years, often exceeding $100 per book, and estimates that a student taking five courses per term will save, at minimum, $60 per year.

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St. Petersburg College is partnering with Complete Florida, an online initiative designed to help adults, veterans and active duty military personnel finish their college degree. In Florida, about 2.2 million adults, or 20 percent of adults over 25, have earned some college credit but have not completed their degree.

9GODhDmj_400x400With the majority of future jobs in Florida expected to require training beyond high school, Complete Florida is focused on increasing the number of Floridians with a postsecondary credential. It is widely estimated that by 2018, nearly 60 percent of jobs in Florida will require postsecondary credentials beyond a high school diploma. Currently, 35 percent of the state’s adults have an associate degree or higher.

Created and funded by the Florida Legislature, the initiative is a joint effort between the State University System of Florida and the Florida College System to address the critical education gap while giving priority to veterans and active duty military.

“Complete Florida’s goal is to get adults back to school and help them meet their educational and professional goals through personalized coaching, concierge-based wraparound support systems and accelerated program completion,” said Pam Northrup, Executive Director of UWF’s Innovation Institute. “Ultimately, we want to connect graduates with job opportunities in Florida.”

Led by the University of West Florida’s Innovation Institute, Complete Florida offers 50 fully online, flexible and accelerated degree programs and certificates. All programs align with high-wage, high-skill workforce needs in the areas of information technology, health care, business, education and general studies. Currently, 11 state and private institutions in Florida are partnering in Complete Florida.

As part of Complete Florida, SPC received a $100,000 grant to help devise ways to incorporate prior-learning assessments, competency-based learning and advising into the delivery and support service model for students to succeed.

Coaching and extensive support systems are the backbones of the Complete Florida program. Personal coaches act as student advocates working to integrate students’ existing college credit and prior learning experiences into their program of study. Complete Florida’s personal learning coaches help students fit courses into busy schedules and align skills and interests to programs and jobs, putting them on a personalized path to a college degree.

For now, SPC offers the following programs through Complete Florida and plans to add more:

Scholarships and financial aid opportunities are available for qualified students. For additional information on Complete Florida, visit http://www.completeflorida.org.

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St. Petersburg College has received national recognition for making significant strides in its effort to increase minority student enrollment and success.

SPC made the list as No. 83 in the Top 100 Four-Year Colleges and Universities Enrollment Undergraduate Degrees by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine in May 2014.

The move to increase Hispanic student enrollment at SPC is underway in light of the recent passage of House Bill 851, more commonly known as the immigrant tuition bill. The bill allows Florida colleges and universities to waive out-of-state fees for undocumented immigrants who attended state high schools.

Stan Vittetoe, Provost at the SPC Clearwater Campus, said the Hispanic population is underserved.

“They make up more than 20 percent of the Clearwater population but represent only 10 percent of our enrollment,” he said.

In 2012, SPC launched The College Experience, a major initiative to increase student success and graduations. While the plan is producing positive results, the greatest advances have been among African-American and Hispanic males.

“All of the components in The College Experience have a demonstrated impact on the success rates of students, particularly minority students,” Vittetoe said.

In addition to these institutional initiatives, the college also is reaching out to the international community, including Hispanics, in a variety of other ways. The most recent outreach activity was the FIFA World Cup viewing party at the Clearwater Campus on June 17. More than 100 community members attended the free event, which was open to SPC students, staff and members of the public.

“We think that these kinds of events will help members of the Hispanic community become aware of the campus and the educational opportunities here,” Vittetoe said.

Success among minority students

Success Among Minority Students infographic

Narrowing the Achievement Gap

A comparison of First-Time-in-College male ethnicities shows that the achievement gap between key ethnic groups at SPC is narrowing.

Narrowing the Gap infographic

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At the June Board of Trustees meeting, St. Petersburg College officials presented information on the college’s strategic priority of providing baccalaureate education and the success rates and demographics of those students. The typical SPC bachelor’s degree graduate is a 31-year-old female who works at least part-time and takes classes online.

This spring, the Florida Legislature barred all 28 Florida colleges from creating new bachelor’s degree programs for a year. Legislators want to review the rapid growth of such degree programs at state colleges, which produced 5,009 graduates in 2012-2013, nearly double the number from the previous two years.

Since 2001, state colleges have offered bachelor’s degrees to meet workforce needs, such as shortages of nurses and teachers. But lawmakers worry state colleges are competing with state universities. Today, 24 state colleges offer 175 bachelor’s degrees.

SPC began with three bachelor’s degrees, in nursing, education and information technology in 2001. It now offers 24. Since 2008, a total of 7,355 students have earned bachelor’s degrees from SPC, which averages 1,000 graduates a year. Baccalaureate students make up 12% of SPC’s enrollment and 20% of its graduates.

“Our baccalaureate students are not traditional students,” said Jesse Coraggio, Associate Vice President Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Grants. “When we talk about competition that may exist between the state college and the university, once you look at the data, there really is no competition. We’re talking about very different needs of students and very different student groups.”

Typically, bachelor’s degree students at SPC outperform lower division students “because they’ve already made it through that part of their academic career,” Coraggio said. They are more committed to graduating and earn their degrees in an average 6.7 semesters. Nearly 90% complete their program within three years. Their course success rates average 85%, compared to lower division course success rates of 74%.

They also earn more money. A report commissioned by the Legislature shows graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn about $18,000 more than those with associate degrees at the mid-point of their careers.

“These programs have been very instrumental in helping mid-career adults get a credential that will move them forward,” said SPC President Bill Law. “There is not a single program on that list that (University of South Florida) president Judy Genshaft did not sign off on in her office, and in fact most of them started in her office” as a way to take pressure off the university, he said.

BOT Chairman Deveron Gibbons called SPC’s bachelor’s degrees essential for those who cannot afford to attend a state university.

“I’m telling you right now, some of these folks would not be going to college at all if they had to travel, or they had to move,” Gibbons said. “They just wouldn’t be able to go through a full baccalaureate program. They couldn’t do it without all the things that are right here in this county that help them be successful.”

To learn more, view the presentation at the 37:20 point of the video.


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In the annual assessment published this week by Community College Week, St. Petersburg College again was 13th in the nation for the number of associate degrees awarded during the 2011-12 academic year. That is the same position the college held the previous year.

Among four-year institutions, SPC ranked 10th in the nation for the number of associate degrees awarded, up one spot from the previous year.

SPC ranked fifth among Florida state colleges behind Miami-Dade, Valencia, Broward, and Florida State College at Jacksonville in the number of associate degrees awarded. The college graduated 4,019 associate degree candidates, a 14.2 percent increase over the previous year. Miami-Dade graduated 11,959; Valencia, 7,974; Broward, 6,218; and Florida State at Jacksonville, 5,744.

Some other interesting facts from the national rankings —

SPC was:

  • 6th in the number of associate degrees awarded in liberal arts & sciences, general studies and humanities (2,590)
  • 19th in the number of associate degrees awarded in health professions and related programs (618)
  • 12th in the number of associate degrees awarded in nursing (392)
  • 61st in the number of associate degrees awarded to African-American students (316)

The rankings were published in Community College Week’s June 24 issue.

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