The inaugural list is the first of its kind to rate universities, colleges, community colleges, and trade schools on their responsiveness and relevance to high-demand, high-growth Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) occupations.
More than 1,600 colleges participated in the S.T.E.M. Jobs ratings process. The ratings are based on rigorous quantitative assessment that measures colleges on criteria created with the assistance of an independent Academic Advisory Board. Colleges were scored on three key indicators of success: program alignment to job demand, job placement after graduation, and diversity in a school’s S.T.E.M. programs.
“M.G.C.C.C.’s inclusion on this list is exciting because it offers us the opportunity to showcase our outstanding academic, technical and career programs in S.T.E.M. fields,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, M.G.C.C.C. President. “Keeping our focus on industry and community needs, we continue to establish new programs and expanded existing programs and facilities in S.T.E.M. areas.”
Graham said Gulf Coast’s new and expanded programs and facilities include the state-of-the-art Healthcare Simulation Center in Gulfport; the establishment of a dedicated S.T.E.M. Center building at the Jackson County Campus; a partnership with Mississippi State University to bring bachelor’s degrees in engineering to Gulf Coast; the completion of a new Nursing Complex that will provide for an expansion of the college’s healthcare-related training as well as advanced degrees in partnership with William Carey University; the Gulf Coast Scholars Leadership Program for S.T.E.M. scholars, which is an effort to increase the enrollment of S.T.E.M. majors at the institution with a five-year $599,999 National Science Foundation award that will provide scholarships for 125 academically talented students with financial need to pursue degrees and careers in S.T.E.M. professions; a six-year grant from N.A.S.A., in conjunction with The University of Mississippi, for student research and enrichment with participating science honor students receiving stipends for research assistants, mentored research and research publication; and a N.A.S.A. Community College Partnership Program with The University of Mississippi that will provide $50,000 in STEM scholarships, faculty fellowships and student workshops with the goal of encouraging and increasing the number of community college students engaging in S.T.E.M. education and skills.
“With strong partnerships with local industries, where S.T.E.M. skills are vital to their workforce, M.G.C.C.C. focuses on ensuring students are prepared to work in those areas,” Graham said. “The highest-paying jobs in the country are those in S.T.E.M. fields, giving our students the opportunity to find great careers that will pay them well. And with Mississippi’s median income of about $38,000 per household as compared to the national average of $52,000, more students prepared for jobs in high-paying, in-demand fields will help close the income and employment gap that separates our state from the rest of the country. By encouraging students to major in the S.T.E.M. fields, M.G.C.C.C. is helping them become successful employees while also promoting regional economic development in South Mississippi and beyond.”
Daniel Nichols, president of S.T.E.M. Jobs, said that the 2015 S.T.E.M. Jobs Approved College list helps parents, students and academic counselors evaluate how well education is translating into real-world jobs and how responsive institutions are to meeting those demands. “Considering the skyrocketing cost to attend a four-year college is in excess of $100,000, and that we’re facing a shortage of S.T.E.M.-qualified job applicants nationwide, every parent needs transparent data to help them and their child find the right school. Plus, students need reliable information not only for four-year degrees, but for two-year degrees and certificate-programs that will prepare them for high-paying S.T.E.M. careers.”
Nichols said that there are a few things that the colleges and universities selected do better than anyone else, including aligning their S.T.E.M. programs with high-paying jobs that are in demand. “Almost all schools offer S.T.E.M. degree programs, but many institutions never connect their academic programs to real-world job requirements. These schools, like M.G.C.C.C., look at the job market and adjust their programs to meet those ever-changing demands.”
Additionally, he said these colleges have programs, resources and relationships that help their students get jobs and work toward attracting and supporting diverse students and faculty in S.T.E.M. fields, and they have specific resources dedicated to supporting S.T.E.M. student achievement and success. “Every school has a primary mission—for some it’s research, for others its community. For these schools, it’s preparing students for success by focusing on preparing them for education, not weeding out. Rather, these colleges work to help S.T.E.M. students thrive in rigorous programs to achieve long-term success, which extends to after graduation. That includes meeting the needs of industry to attract greater diversity in order to continue to lead in the global marketplace. These schools not only understand that, but are actively working to change that equation.”
The list of all 2015 S.T.E.M. Jobs Approved Colleges selected is available at http://stemjobs.com/2015-stem-jobs-approved-colleges/.