Updated: January 16, 2014 6:35AM
Transferring to a four-year university from a junior college and getting credit for all the work a student has done takes some planning.
Recognizing as much, Joliet Junior College recently held its first STEM Transfer Fair to help high school and junior college students learn how to best plan their college courses.
Several JJC and area high school students who plan to major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics attended one-on-one discussions with representatives from 20 state and private universities.
“Every single state university and a number of private universities were there to talk about transfer opportunities to their schools,” JJC Technical Department specialist Luann DiMonte said. “It was a great opportunity for the students.”
The fair geared toward STEM students was a first for JJC, and DiMonte said it was very successful. The next one is planned for October 2014. Among possible additions are speakers and participation by U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., a former Fermilab physicist.
DiMonte said the fair enabled those who already have some college credits, whether from JJC or another junior college or university, to find out whether the credits will transfer to four-year universities. It also aided high school students who are in the planning stages and trying to determine which junior college-level classes will transfer to particular universities, she said.
Joshua Davidson of Plainfield said holding one fair with so many universities present was a great idea. He took several classes at JJC while in high school and for a couple of years after graduation, then transferred to Illinois Institute of Technology, where he is majoring in mechanical engineering.
“I think a fair is an exciting opportunity,” he said. “The transfer process can be overwhelming.”
Davidson said he knows students who lost credits that didn’t transfer because they didn’t plan well at the beginning. He was fortunate, he said, in that all of his classes transferred.
DiMonte said the number of jobs in STEM fields has grown 22 percent in the past 10 years, and the average annual salary for STEM positions was $77,880 in 2009.
“These jobs are our future in the computer age,” she said. “At the STEM Transfer Fair, we were able to help students move on to the next place to reach their career goals. It’s also vital to high school students wanting to go into STEM fields. They need to know what their goals should be in college. The more knowledge you have, the better.”
JJC has focused on providing more STEM education, as well, including by creating an engineering transfer degree, available in 2015, and a new robotics class available this year.
Students seeking consultations about STEM programs, scholarships and transfer information can call Cheryl Turrise at 815-280-2923 or visit www.jjc.edu/info/transfer.