(MARSHALL) – Students in three programs at Texas State Technical College are getting an opportunity to earn technology certifications as part of final exams starting this fall.
The Business Management Technology program in Abilene, Brownwood, Harlingen and Marshall is offering students opportunities to earn Microsoft Office certifications.
Students in the Computer Networking and Systems Administration program at the in Abilene, Brownwood, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses, along with Cyber Security majors at the Fort Bend, Marshall, North Texas and Waco campuses, can earn Cisco and CompTIA information technology and networking certifications.
“If the industry values a certification or series of complementary certifications, and finds them necessary for our graduates in the workforce, we will implement the appropriate material in our courses,” said Bryan Bowling, director of instructional support at the Fort Bend County campus.
Expanding the concept evolved from an initiative TSTC in Marshall already had students doing.
“When I got here four years ago, the students took the class and then it was optional for them to take the certification exam,” said Randy Haley, associate vice president for student learning at the Marshall campus and statewide lead for the Computer Science division. “What I was seeing was a lot of students were not taking advantage of trying to test to see if they could get certified.”
Marshall faculty members began using certification tests as final examinations three years ago.
“There is nothing like seeing a student pass the Microsoft certification exam,” said Carolyn O’Neill, a Business Management Technology instructor at the Marshall campus. “Their excitement is hard to describe. The tears and little dances say it all. Many students study hard for their certification exam and when they see the pass score, it is so exciting. Their confidence goes through the roof.”
Expanding the use of certification tests to other TSTC campuses involved adding voucher codes to class section numbers, Haley said.
“When they registered for the first time, they paid for their test with their financial aid voucher,” he said. “Not only do they get the degree, but they get the industry certification as well.”
Students are not scheduled to have more than one class with a certification test during a semester, Haley said.
“The certifications are supposed to be hard,” Haley said. “We don’t like to double up on the students. We like them to be doing one certification per semester rather than be loading up at the end.”
Students who enter TSTC with certifications can get class credit, Haley said.
The Harlingen, Marshall and Waco campuses are certified Pearson VUE centers. Haley said Pearson VUE centers will be at the Fort Bend County, North Texas and Williamson County campuses in early 2018.
TSTC has statewide at least 340 students in the Business Management Technology program, more than 350 students in the Computer Systems and Network Administration program and more than 400 students in the Cyber Security program.
“TSTC is very market-driven and we are one, statewide,” said Bowling. “Our purpose is to ensure the success of our students in the workforce through the statewide lens. Therefore, we work very closely with industry leaders to determine what is most relevant for our students from an instructional standpoint.”
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.