Monday, September 01, 2014

Trouble finding a job? Some residents going back to school

By COURTNEY SERVAES, Herald Staff Writer | 11/10/2009

Sarah Crawford was tired of waiting tables.

She was tired of hoping she’d make enough on tips to pay the bills.

Sarah Crawford was tired of waiting tables.

She was tired of hoping she’d make enough on tips to pay the bills.

She needed something more.

So Crawford, a 2004 graduate of Ottawa High School, enrolled at Neosho County Community College in Chanute and started her collegiate life — three years later than most college freshmen.

“I decided to attend a community college first because when I sat down with my parents, we both thought that would be the best choice,” Crawford, who currently attends Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, said.

Crawford is one of many area high school graduates to make the decision to attend college because of economic troubles.

A challenge

Crawford knew it would be tough.

But she needed to do it.

“It’s very hard to attend school right now,” she said. “I have a lot of bills because I lived for a while before attending school.”

When Crawford decided to attend NCCC instead of a four-year school, it mostly was because of the price, she said.

“It just makes sense,” she said. “It was cheaper, and you can get close to your teachers.”

After finishing her coursework at Neosho last year, Crawford moved to Pittsburg to pursue a degree in education.

“It was nice being able to talk to (teachers) with any concerns that I have,” she said. “Now that I’m at Pitt, I don’t have that and I miss it.”

Getting ahead

You need a degree to get anywhere anymore, Crawford said.

That’s why she and many others have made the choice to go back to school despite a struggling economy.  

“I think if they have the time and the money, they should consider it,” Crawford said.

She made the decision to get her degree before the economy started to spiral downward. Many others — like students enrolled in Ottawa’s Future Visions program, 206 S. Main St. — have made that same decision.

“We’ve had a number of people who have come in looking to finish their high school diploma who have lost their jobs,” Russ Testorff, site coordinator at Future Visions, said. “They come in wanting to further their education to go out and find a career.”

Finishing high school

Testorff said it’s the flexibility.

That’s what he said makes Future Visions — and similar programs — work so well for potential students.

“We have a flexible time schedule for students,” Testorff said of the program, which is open Monday through Saturday.

He said last year Future Visions enrolled about 80 people. This year, he said more than 100 students are participating in the program.

“Students can come in any time,” Testorff said. “We can handle that increase simply because of the flexibility.”

College degrees

Crawford needs to save up some money.

She and her fiance, Michael, plan to move closer to Ottawa next year.

Until then, she said the couple plans to take a semester off and save up, plan ahead.

“I will be working and saving as much money as I can so that when I return fall of 2010, I will not have to stress so much about my bills and I can concentrate on my classes,” she said. “I’ll be in Chanute until we save enough to move up there.”

Crawford said she doesn’t mind the struggle to attend college — it’ll be worth it in the end.

Plus, she said she has support from family and friends, which has given her strength.

“My parents are also a big help when it comes to decision making,” she said. “I talk to them about everything. They are a huge help. I could not do it without them.”

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