GCC holds College Day fair


September 18, 2019

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

From left, Julieann Mead, a senior at Luther L. Wright K-12 School in Ironwood; Angelina Jarvela, a GCC sophomore in elementary education; and Vivian Pavlovich, a senior at A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer, learn about Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, from McKenzie Laurent, admission counselor, during the Welcome to College Day event Tuesday at Gogebic Community College.


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Ironwood - More than 400 students from six area high schools converged on Gogebic Community College Tuesday for "Welcome to College Day 2019."

The statewide Michigan College Fair tour is going through the Upper Peninsula this week, said Kim Zeckovich, director of admissions, marketing and communications at GCC. The 38 public and private schools present were from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

"It provides high school and college students an opportunity to visit with all of the various colleges and universities in one central location," Zeckovich said. "The GCC students are able to explore future transfer opportunities at four-year institutions and the military branches."

Events like this are great if only for the sake of scheduling, said Dan Martinson, dean of students at Luther L. Wright K-12 School in Ironwood. The colleges come to the high schools and that requires taking students out of class every time, he said.

"You've got everything concentrated here, so the convenience is the biggest thing," Martinson said.

A post-secondary education fair shows the importance of higher education, said GCC President George McNulty.

"This event is certainly a primary example of how we can reach out to our K-12 partners," McNulty said. "It provides a space for students and everyone is here for the same purpose and the energy in this building is quite exhilarating."

In a perfect world each one of these students would receive training and education after high school to be more competitive in the job market, he said. It also helps them to grow as individuals, he said.

"College day is actually narrowing down different choices in what schools have my choice of degree," said Julieann Mead, a senior at Luther L. Wright K-12 School who plans to study phlebotomy. "The most important factor is the programs."

Jamie Jett, a senior at A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer, said he's still deciding on a school but and that a good track program is important as it might mean a scholarship opportunity. College day puts everything here and the students appreciate that, he said.

"It's an opportunity to look at what colleges have to offer instead of just doing the research at home, which can be overwhelming sometimes," Jett said.

Jonell Poler, senior at Watersmeet Township School, said she hasn't decided on a school yet and college day provided a sense of direction.

"I want to go into real estate," Poler said.

Angelina Jarvela, GCC sophomore studying elementary education, attended college day to consider a transfer to a four-year college at the end of the year.

College day is also a head start on the financial aid process, said Steve Do, an outreach analyst team member for MI Student Aid, a division of the state treasury. Students who are eligible for Michigan programs can be certified right here and receive assistance to navigate the Federal Application for All Student Aid.

"It's the baseline for all of our programs as well as access to other programs that students should be aware of," Do said. "In addition to having advice and support for the general and overall broad financial aid aspects and information, we have specific information about our programs for Michigan residents. For example the TIF (Tuition Incentive Program) is our largest program."

The Great Lakes Boat Building School was at the college day for the first time. The 10-year-old nonprofit school in Cedarville, Michigan, transitioned its mission from the hobbyist to a career launching program for the maritime industry, with a 12-month program that is now accredited for workforce accountability standards by the U.S. Department of Education so students are eligible for student aid, said Chris Ritchie, admissions advisor.

"We set the expectations for graduates so that they will come out with an apprentice level skill set," Ritchie said. "We really want to attract students who want to work in the profession."

Shane Deadrick, the transfer coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, said he visits GCC four times a year. A lot of students from the Upper Peninsula say they like the smaller, affordable campus less than two hours away and because it offers tuition waivers to Michigan students.

"We have invested over $120 million in new facilities in the past five years," Deadrick said.

McKenzie Laurent, admissions counselor at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, said she talked about the benefits of private schools with specialized programs, no outstate tuition and merit scholarships to offset costs. The suburban location north of Milwaukee is the safest school in the state, she said.

"The community and the environment gives students a space to grow," McKenzie said.

Finlandia University staff from Hancock, said college day is a way to talk about the service learning aspects that help instill a well-rounded education.

"I have more students tell me I didn't know I wanted to go to Finlandia until I met you, or until I came to campus," said Cathleen Fuller, director of Global Initiatives. "It kind of struck a cord and they said 'ya, this is where I want to be', and you can't get that online."


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