Students explore technical college

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Students explore technical college

Kendall Chamberlin and Austin Sams pause for a moment during their tour of Ranken Technical College.

Kendall Chamberlin and Austin Sams pause for a moment during their tour of Ranken Technical College.

Kendall Chamberlin and Austin Sams pause for a moment during their tour of Ranken Technical College.

Kendall Chamberlin and Austin Sams pause for a moment during their tour of Ranken Technical College.

Story and captions by Molly Caro, Photo Editor

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Students learn about Ranken’s High-Performance Racing program.

In February, students from Miriam Academy visited Ranken Technical College, where students learn by creating and fixing things. It’s still college — with books, homework and tests — but it’s mostly hands-on training that prepares students for a variety of jobs.

Ranken is aggressively trying to increase its enrollment, hoping to attract students like Jake Wilson to attend.

“Ranken is fun because they have so much technology,” Jake said. High-performance racing was the best part, according to Jake. If he went to Ranken, he would probably want to study high performance racing. 

Jake said he has wanted to go to Ranken for more than four years. After college, he wants to improve cars until he retires. The college is looking for more students like Jake.

Jerry Ritter is one of the past board member of Ranken who still sometimes still works with Ranken Technology college. 

“Current enrollment at Ranken is about 2,100 full time equivalents. Ranken’s current staff and buildings are sufficient to add another 200 students. Anything above that number would require increased staff and buildings. Ranken would welcome the challenge of providing added staff and buildings if increased enrollment were to exceed 200.”

Ranken’s high performance racing was what Jake was attracted to, in addition to the automotive division. 

The Ranken school day is from 9:00 – 2:00, Monday through Friday. This schedule provides more in class time than most college programs but less homework. The structured day works well for its students. 

“Ranken is an excellent transition from high school to college because you’re in class every morning, every weekday,” said Ranken student Matt Evans.

Matt is one of 2,100 male students at Ranken. There are 43 female students, but the college would like to change that.

High school student Maria Inman said she thought the jobs the Ranken students were training for were cool “because they get to build interesting stuff.” However, Maria is not likely to attend Ranken because she is “not into” technical jobs. 

Miriam’s Head of School, Dr. Sue Jackson, would not have attended Ranken either, but believes that for some high school graduates it’s an ideal option.

“I’m not a technology person and more a social teacher,” Dr. Jackson said. “It’s a cool place. For a lot of kids, it’s a great place. I loved what they were making and working on — heating, cooling, welding — and loved all the hands on stuff. I’m more of an arts and crafts person.”

Maybe Dr. Jackson and Maria are examples of why there are only 43 female students at Ranken. This is because there’s not many females are not into technology.

Some of the programs that Ranken offers are Automotive, Construction, Electrical, Information Technology and Manufacturing. Part of the Construction program requires the students to build a miniature house indoors before they build a real home for people to live in. Ranken also has single dorms and four-bedroom apartment dorms with a kitchen that are nicer than most people’s first apartments. At the cafeteria they have a great selection of fried food and a salad bar.

So why are more students not taking advantage of the awesome programs at Ranken? Jerry Ritter offers 3 possible reasons:

  1. “Lack of understanding about the skills taught at Ranken and the wonderful employment opportunities available”
  2. “Misunderstanding by parents that technical education and career are not as good as a 4-year college program.”
  3. “The advantage of a technical education is not adequately communicated to high school counselors and parents.”

Ranken student Matt Evans found his way to Ranken after first attending a traditional four-year universrity. He does not regret his decision to attend Ranken.

“I decided to attend Ranken because the education there is thorough; when you leave and get your degree, you will know how to do your job.”


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