Endless Paths to Choose From: HCC Prepares Students to Take the Next Step
March 18, 2022
Howard Community College is a place for students to find the right path on their educational journey and begin their trek towards professional success. Nationally recognized for its academics, HCC assists students who may feel lost or need help taking the next step towards their future.
The college offers a variety of resources for students, such as guidance and support from faculty, mentoring programs and the services provided at the Academic Support, Counseling and Career Services Center. Students can also take advantage of internship opportunities, join clubs and enroll in a diverse list of classes that fit their interests.
Whether students want to transfer to a four-year university, enroll in classes while balancing a job or even take a gap year, HCC accommodates all its students and their goals.
Vibin Abraham is a second-year student at HCC majoring in exercise science. He decided to attend HCC when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States. Abraham expressed how HCC has prepared him to transfer to a four-year university this fall.
“I think HCC has helped me create better habits and [has given] me the motivation for what I need to do next,” said Abraham. “I believe that a great environment creates a great mindset, and HCC has a wonderful campus for students to work.”
Abraham also explained that attending HCC has helped him develop valuable skills crucial for taking the next step in his academic journey.
“[Attending HCC has] shown me that I need to be more independent and I have to take the initiative to do other activities, hobbies or practice skills in order to achieve my goals.”
HCC doesn’t just cater to students looking to transfer, but also to those exploring multiple interests and venturing through different fields to find the perfect fit.
Druew Schroeder has been going to HCC on and off since 2011 and is majoring in general studies. She decided to go to HCC after starting a family because it was close to home and she could take night classes while working full-time. Schroeder reflected on how her time at HCC has helped her educational path.
“I would definitely say that my advisor has been there for me since day one and has really helped me through this whole college experience. She will suggest a class or program and show me the steps I need to take to get where I want to be,” said Schroeder. “I don’t know exactly what my plans are after HCC, but I’ve been thinking about pushing myself to get my masters.”
Schroeder stated that she could explore different interests because of HCC’s encouraging faculty and has benefitted from the diversity of classes offered.
I believe that a great environment creates a great mindset, and HCC has a wonderful campus for students to work.
— Vibin Abraham
“There’s definitely been a couple of teachers that stood out to me and I really enjoyed their class. Currently, a class I am taking right now, ‘Humanities: Happiness Approach,’ is something I feel like everyone should take, and I will carry on the information learned for the rest of my life,” said Schroeder. “It is something that I can also teach my children at a young age that no one could teach me.”
Even if students have not figured out the next step in their future, HCC offers them valuable experience and guidance on where to turn.
Bronwyn Gallagher is a second-year general studies major at HCC who plans to take a gap year after graduating this spring. Gallagher came to HCC after high school because she was unsure what she wanted to study. While she has not yet discovered her passion, Gallagher has narrowed her choices down because of the many opportunities HCC provides students to explore their interests.
“I think the most important thing HCC has taught me is what I don’t want to do,” said Gallagher. “I have been able to try out many different avenues to see where a new or old interest could go in terms of possible career paths. It has been a great experience and I have been able to learn more about myself through these classes.”
Gallagher also participated in programs offered at HCC to gain insight on what path to pursue in her future.
“I believe that HCC is great at helping students and providing different opportunities for them in their future. There are so many different clubs to join and honors programs that are related to career fields or discovering what you would like to do,” said Gallagher. “The Rouse Honors Program helped me a lot to figure out possible areas I could be interested in, which I will use during my gap year.”
Students at HCC can decide how long they want to stay, as they are not required to attend HCC for the full two years. Many students take advantage of this to pursue their goals.
According to a comparison of fall 2016-2021 cohorts conducted by the Planning, Research and Organizational Development at HCC, 30% of new enrollments for the fall only stay for one semester, while 20% of that same starting fall group will stay for two semesters. Eight percent of that group will stay for three semesters and 15% will stay for four semesters.
David Tirpak, associate director of Career Services at HCC, shared how many students utilize campus services to find success.
“Looking at the last two years, the number of students who have sought career-related appointments has ranged from 333-695 students in a given year,” explained Tirpak. “During the pandemic, we did experience a decrease in the number of students who sought career services, however, many students continued to access our career-related resources online like FOCUS-2, Career Coach [and] Handshake, and attended our career outreach events.”
HCC is a safe place for students to ask questions, find support and explore their interests through the plethora of courses offered. For students like Abraham and Gallagher, graduating from HCC on May 27 is the next milestone in their respective academic careers.
Regardless of a student’s educational and career path, HCC is the bridge that connects all students to their future goals.
“I definitely think that HCC is a place that will help all students excel,” said Schroeder. “There are so many options and people to look out for you and help you get to where you need to go, and HCC is that stepping stone to help get there.”