TRiO Educational Opportunity Center is turning college into a reality for underserved students

By John Phillips

South Seattle College

Well-paying jobs are important for families in Seattle and King County. Our cost of living is on the rise. Today’s workers need specialized knowledge and skills to be competitive for the jobs that pay well enough to pay for the cost of living. Education and training programs provide those skills.

The TRiO Educational Opportunity Center at South Seattle College provides access to the education and training programs that lead to better employment opportunities.

The EOC at South Seattle College works with adults in the community who are interested in pursuing additional education in a college or training program. Different from programs that assist high school students with the college admissions process, TRiO EOC is focused on working with adults who are entering a program at a different stage of life.

EOC staff focus on assisting program participants explore the training opportunities at our local community and technical colleges. The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges is made up of 34 colleges in Washington state. Ten of them are here in King County. With so many options available, EOC staff work with participants to explore different campuses, programs and course offerings.

One of the unique opportunities for adult learners is to decide whether they would like to further develop existing skills and return to a familiar line of work or choose an entirely new industry and skill set to explore.

Whichever path someone chooses, EOC staff encourage everyone to look at the employment outlook in the field or skill set they are considering. For example, aerospace, construction and manufacturing are all industries to consider locally.

There are a variety of education tracks to consider when choosing a program. Short-term training programs can be the best way to skill-up for the job market and get back to work quickly. Apprenticeship programs provide an income while students are learning skills required for a particular trade. Certificate programs provide focused instruction in a technical skill. Two- and four-year degree programs give students exposure to a wide range of subjects for career exploration and development.

Although each college has its own enrollment process, there are several steps that are common to most institutions. Future students will need to apply to the school they are interested in attending, pursue the funding method they will be using to pay for school and register for the particular class or program they are interested in attending. need to take a placement test, provide transcripts from previous education experiences or attend an orientation. EOC staff research all of the steps to enroll for a particular program and then assist participants in navigating each step.

Once an EOC participant has completed the enrollment process, the EOC team is available to refer the new student to many different campus resources that support the success of students during their time in school.

These include tutoring centers, counselors, disability support services, student activity programs and many others. Campus jobs and the Work Study program are also excellent ways for students to further their education while increasing job skills.

TRiO is the name used for a variety of programs that began with the passing of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are intended to increase college access and completion by low-income students and students who are the first in their families to go to college. The TRiO programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

EOC staff are available to meet with interested community members Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the main campus of South Seattle College in West Seattle. To learn more, email trio-eoc@seattlecolleges.edu or call 206-934-5208.

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