Great Two-Year Colleges of Wisconsin
Milwaukee Area Technical College: More than Just a Trade School
Bordered by Lake Michigan to the east and full of small lakes and forested areas, Wisconsin is a great place to enjoy small town life in addition to the urban areas of Milwaukee and Madison. Students of the state benefit from a great community college system, with the bulk of the institutions forming part of the 16-member Technical College System. It is based on legislation passed early in the twentieth century, where cities were given the power to establish trade schools supported by state aid. An apprenticeship program was then established, which formed the basis for the 1917 Smith-Hughes Act enacted by the US Congress. In the 1960s, many of these institutions were allowed to start granting associate degrees. Today, students throughout the state benefit from the wide range of programs offered and the close relationship between the education offered and the needs of the local labor market.
The Milwaukee Area Technical College, known as MATC, grew out of a unique 1911 law in the state of Wisconsin that responded to a desire to help students who did not finish high school get ahead in the workplace. After it was founded a year later, MATC went on to become a community college that is currently one of the largest in the Midwest. More than three-quarters of the 57,000 students served annually are part time, taking classes offered on four campuses: Downtown Milwaukee, West Allis, Oak Creek, and Mequon. MATC offerings include associate degrees, diplomas, and certificate available in 200 fields, including Graphic Design, Computer Information Technology, Baking Production, Surgical Technology, and Anesthesia Technology. While most attend MATC with plans to enter the workforce directly following their studies, nearly one-third of students hope to enter bachelor’s programs via one of the more than 360 program-to-program transfer agreements held with four-year institutions. MATC is also known in the community for operating Milwaukee Public Television through an educational outreach program, and for becoming the first college in Wisconsin to go wireless in 2003.
Located in northern Wisconsin in the Hayward area, the Lac Courte Oreilles Community College primarily serves the surrounding community including the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. It is a public community college, established in 1982. While the main campus is on the Reservation outside Hayward, there are also outreach sites in Bad River, Lac du Flambeau, Red Cliff, and St. Croix. A few hundred students take classes through LCOCC, working toward associate degrees in Early Childhood Education, Native American Studies, Casino Operations Management, Medical Assistant, Agriculture & Natural Resources Management, Accounting, and Business Administration. Certificates are also offered, including programs in Green Building Carpentry, Child Day Care, Renewable Energy, Web Page Development, and Medical Transcriptionist.
Established as part of the Wisconsin Technical College System in 1912, Western Technical College is based in an urban setting in the city of LaCrosse. Over 6,000 students are enrolled in programs, while about twice that number are doing courses in Continuing Education. Associate degrees can be earned in over forty fields, which are divided into four main divisions: Business, General Studies, Health and Public Safety, and Industrial Technologies. A committee oversees the content provided in each program, ensuring that it stays relevant to the needs of the area labor market. For students who want to continue at four-year institutions, Western Technical College has established agreements so that students can obtain junior status upon transferring to schools including the Milwaukee School of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Stout, and other nearby universities.
The history of the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, known as NWTC, stretches back to state laws and the creation of vocational city schools in 1913 in Green Bay and Marinette. Sturgeon Bay opened a similar institution in 1941 to train area workers for technical careers, and the three schools merged into the current institution in the late 1960s. Around 41,500 students currently take classes every year, many of them in non-degree programs, while more than 2,000 students graduate with degrees every year. There are more than 100 associate degrees, technical diplomas, and apprenticeship programs, and around 93 percent of graduates find employment. Some of the top degree-granting programs include Communication Technologies/Technicians and Support Services, Precision Production, and Criminal Justice, and NWTC ranks among the top two-year colleges in the country. NWTC also holds agreements for students wishing to continue in 28 different four-year institutions, and all of the associate degrees make students eligible to transfer.
While parts of the history of Gateway Technical College stretch back to the beginnings of the twentieth century, it was officially established in 1972. Gateway serves Southeastern Wisconsin, including campuses in Racine, Kenosha, and Elkhorn. In addition to diploma and advanced technical certificate programs, Gateway offers associate degrees in 65 areas including Accounting, Criminal Justice, Business, Information Technology, Nursing, multiple Engineering fields, and Culinary Arts. More than 29,000 students take classes, and Gateway even helps many of them receive support to finance their education.
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