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It's crunch time. Someone has gone into cardiac arrest and their life is in danger. EMT students at Wallace Community College in Dothan are taught to handle these high-stress situations every day.
"We get on-scene before they get to the hospital...before any doctors get to see them. We get there and we try to treat any problems they're having," says EMT student Joseph Ferguson. Now of course this is all staged, but Joseph feels very confident in his skills and even more confident in his college choice.
"At first I started it because it was closer to home but I actually enjoy it. We learn a lot more, we have a lot more pass rates. I've got friends that go to other colleges, same programs, but I feel like we learn a lot better and we get a lot more hands on experience," he added. Joseph is choosing a career as an EMT but there are other high-yielding career paths. Nursing, criminal justice and accounting are all top majors in the U.S.
Before you declare a major, you have to first determine where you want to go and whether that's a community college of a four-year institution, the Wiregrass is full of options to make your educational dreams a reality.
Now most of us are told to go the traditional route and earn that four-year degree but in today's economy tuition prices are on the rise every day.
"The annual average tuition cost for like a residential campus would be around 20,000 dollars," says Troy Dothan Dean of Students Bob Willis. Students are seeking more bang for their buck so the popularity of community colleges is surging.
"If you look across the nation today, with the economy the way it is, actually in most states, a two year degree is..starting salary, equal to or great than a bachelor's degree," explains WCC Dean of Instructional Affairs Tony Holland. No matter how you look at it, college is expensive and making the school fit into your schedule can be a challenge but the benefits of higher education can't be ignored.
"It is very liberating...education is definitely the key to success regardless of the economics or whatever is going on with the economy at the time," Janet Bradley says.
And giving the gift of an education is a gift in itself for Bradley.
"When you see a student walk across the stage and get that degree and you realize that you had a small part in that...it's just..words..you can't put words to it to realize that they were successful and that you had a small part in that," she added.
A small part that lasts a lifetime.