Campus tours offer students opportunity to explore options

MSU’s Institute of Agriculture Technology partners with community college locations to offer unique collegiate experiences for students.

Montcalm Community College Farmbot model
Students learning about Montcalm Community College's Farmbot model.

For many high school students, college seems like a distant future concept that does not require any immediate attention. 4-H members who attended the Michigan State University Institute of Agricultural Technology Campus Tour Trip Nov. 1-2, 2018, gained a different perspective. Thirteen teens in grades 8-12 participated in the event that provided an opportunity to tour five community college campuses where Michigan State University offers Institute of Agricultural Technology certificate programs in partnership with local campuses.

Teens learned the value of starting to plan for future educational goals early in their high school careers. Some high schools offer opportunities for students to earn college credits before graduation through dual enrollment courses or early or middle college programs. In addition, MSU offers college credits to FFA members who receive their Michigan FFA Degree. All of these options will save students time and money, but do require forward planning on behalf of the student to ensure they meet all high school graduation requirements, have completed course prerequisites and can accommodate the time commitment for these options into their class schedule.

Students assembling model beehives at West Shore Community College
Students assembling model beehives at West Shore Community College

In addition to learning about opportunities they can pursue in high school, the teens also learned about the two-year certificate programs the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology is offering in partnership with community college campus in locations throughout Michigan. This unique partnership allows students the ability to simultaneously earn an associate’s degree from their community college while they earn a certificate in an agricultural discipline from MSU,

The Campus Tour Trip stopped at five community college locations. Through the experience, teens toured campus facilities and laboratories, met college presidents and talked with admissions and financial aid officers. The experience provided teens with the context of what questions they should ask when they visit any college campus, such as:

Viewing drone laboratory at Northwestern Michigan College
Viewing drone laboratory at Northwestern Michigan College.
  • What housing options are available?
  • Where do students eat?
  • Is parking provided?
  • What do students do for fun outside of school?

The teens also learned that each college campus has unique program offerings and its own culture. A few highlights from this Campus Tour Trip:

  • Montcalm Community College—a small college in a rural setting that offers programs that focus on robotic technologies in horticulture. The Ag Club helps students connect their classroom learning with research projects.
  • Muskegon Community College—agricultural courses housed within the Life Sciences Department that includes lab practicums focused on food science, beekeeping and environmental studies of a creek flowing under the campus building. Curriculum focused on students’ development of leadership skills to meet industry needs.
Beehive at Muskegon Community College
Beehive at Muskegon Community College.
  • West Shore Community College—close connection between Agriscience Career Technical Education program for high school youth, FFA program and Institute of Agricultural Technology courses. Curriculum offers learning opportunities in plant and animal science areas.
  • Northwestern Michigan College—a larger school with multiple campus locations offering distinctive programs in viticulture, marine technology and unmanned aerial systems.
  • Delta College—an entire college campus under one roof. Students have the prospect of earning a certificate in not only agriculture, but also a skilled trade such as electrician, machinist, mechatronics or carpentry at the same time.
Touring skills trades labs at Delta College
Touring skills trades labs at Delta College.

Overall, teens learned there are many advantages to attending a community college program including smaller class sizes and free parking. Regardless of which educational and career path a young person pursues, planning early in their high school years can yield maximum benefits for options and financial assistance.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

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