Why PTC is a Great Place to Start

Did you know that you can graduate college and head off to an awesome career without crippling student debt? It’s the American Dream, right? Pickens Technical College isn’t the embodiment of the American Dream the way that Tony Montana or Ruth Bader Ginsberg are, but it can help you build a foundation for success throughout your collegiate career and send you across the graduation stage debt-free.

PTC offers complete career and technical certificate programs in many common subjects that students study later. It also can help you knock those pesky graduation requirement credits out of the way for much less than attending college at a state school and spending thousands of dollars on tuition, room and board, books, etc. Many students have seen the advantage of taking two years at a technical college like PTC.

A personal story: When I was a senior in high school, I thought that my life was over because my parents couldn’t quite afford college tuition for me and I didn’t earn enough in scholarships/financial aid/working at a plant store. They had wisely invested in a credit union Guaranteed Education Tuition fund when I was born, but that fund would only cover tuition, room and board, and other expenses for the first two years. I thought I had two options, go to technical college for two years and transfer to the college I wanted, or take out a huge loan and end up in debt long into my forties. It turns out that I got help from a family friend and I worked during college to cover the rest, but I seriously considered technical college for a long time because it’s a great option.

Often times, you’ll get the same level of education in technical college courses for your intro-level college courses than you will at a four-year state school. In fact, as I can attest, intro-level college courses are often attended by hundreds of students who can’t possibly get the same level of attention that they can at local college. Four-year colleges are great, and there’s no replacing dorm life, but if your options are huge debt when you leave a four-year college or a technical college like PTC, it’s smarter to eliminate student debt when you can. Your future self will thank you.

PTC is a great place to start your higher educational journey because it prepares you for the next educational step or a career, if you want. Many students jump right into awesome jobs with the training and education they learned at PTC. The curriculum here is always geared toward your next stop on your life journey, whether that’s onto a four-year college or a career right away, that’s up to you. But you can bet that PTC can help you get the building blocks of future success together.

PTC Instructor John Lawson’s Three Laws of Graphic Design

Pickens Technical College employs some of the best and most qualified instructors in the area to teach you how to be a boss in many different careers. Many people are drawn (get it?) to graphic design because it’s an artistic field that actually pays well and gets you out of your mom’s basement. Graphic design instructor John Lawson prepares students for a successful career as a graphic designer by emphasizing the skills you’ll need to impress future employers or clients. Here are his three laws of graphic design: (You won’t learn how to be a boss graphic designer from reading this article, you’ll have to take the class. Think of this as a teaser.)

  1. Layouts convey meaning and relationships. How you arrange your text and graphics in a space creates meaning and helps the viewer understand your message. Your job as a graphic designer is to create relationships for the viewer. By simply placing several images close together and one far away from them all, you’re creating meaning without having to explain everything with words (who needs ‘em?).
  1. Use patterns and repetition to organize your designs. Human beings are excellent at recognizing patterns. That’s how we took over the world and why we seem so smart in comparison to all other life-forms on Earth. Use this evolutionary marvel in our genetics to your advantage as a graphic designer. Give your audience visual cues so they can follow along with your content. This is especially important if you have to convey large amounts of information in limited space.
  1. Use the right images and nothing more. It’s easy for graphic designers to fill their space with busy images that don’t necessarily add much to the message you’re going for. After all, putting images together is what you do if you’re a graphic designer. However, adding anything beyond what the space or message needs can confuse the space and confuse your audience. Simpler is better. Find or create the perfect images for your space and leave it alone.

These are three laws that John Lawson will impart to you throughout his graphic design class. I’m sure he can explain them and use them in better context than I could. Another thing he can do much better than me is prepare students for careers in this field. He teaches students how to use graphic design software and refine their overall artistic talent through a series of projects of varying size and scope. After you take his class, you’ll be able to create marketing designs, work on branding materials, and find work as a freelancer. You’ll also have at least the beginnings of a professional portfolio that you can not only show to your mom to make her proud, but also show to potential employers. An underrated part of this program is the artistic skills you’ll develop, which will serve you well whether or not you end up working in a career in graphic design.

P-TECH Comes to Colorado

Last summer, while you were hiking in the mountains and enjoying the sunbaked, green grass of Cheesman Park, the educational program known as P-TECH arrived in Colorado and its effects on all educational institutions throughout the state, including Pickens Technical College, could be profound. Governor John Hickenlooper took a break from his summer beer tasting activities to sign the bill approving P-TECH for the state after it was approved by the state legislature (because that’s how bills work). P-TECH stands (loosely) for Pathways in Technology Early College High School and its goal is to unite school districts, community colleges, and employers—especially in the booming tech industry here—across the state to provide young people with a clear path from high school and college to a career.

This legislation seeks to shrink the so-called “workplace gap” that many companies in the state are experiencing when it comes to qualified workers. There aren’t enough recent college or high school graduates who are qualified to start at an information technology company, for example, and these companies are scrambling to hire employees they can train to help them grow and sustain this economic expansion we’ve seen in Colorado for the past several years.

Pickens Technical College, as a technical college in Colorado, is included in the positive changes that P-TECH will bring about. Now more than ever, it is in collaboration with employers in the technology industry, as well as the healthcare and energy industries in the state, to match students and graduates with careers. This is good for PTC, good for the state of Colorado because it keeps jobs and companies right here, and most importantly, good for you, because if you’re trying to learn how to break into a rising industry like Information Technology, there has never been a better time to find a career. There has also never been a time in history when something called “Information Technology” can berth so many careers. I doubt cavemen tried to store smoke signals in any kind of database.

The advent of P-TECH means that institutions like PTC can place their students directly in growing industries faster and work with both high schools and employers to match curriculum and jobs with increasingly well-qualified individuals who can help the state’s economy grow and mature for years to come. Thousands of students throughout the state at the high school, technical and community college levels can benefit from the partnerships that P-TECH promises and the opening of avenues to college if desired and a career afterward.

The bottom line is, now is the time to enroll in PTC and take advantage of these new partnerships to get your career off the ground. Take advantage of not only the highly specialized instruction here at PTC for careers in some of the fastest-growing industries on the planet, but also the increased collaboration between PTC and employers looking for qualified candidates in the Denver metro area and the state.

Why You Should Use the Student Portal

If you’ve taken any classes at Pickens Technical College (I assume you have), then you already know where to find your grades for your courses. Some professors at PTC use STARS as their grading software, others use Easy Grade Pro. Your professor will of course let you know which grading software they use and how to check your grades. Of course you check them, but too many students don’t use the PTC Student Portal (where you can find your grades, in case you don’t know) to its fullest.

PTC’s Student Portal is a one-stop resource for all kinds of student issues. Here, you can download forms you’ll have to sit and fill out when you visit certain departments on campus, such as student grievance forms. You can download the student handbook, a bus schedule to and from PTC from the surrounding area, and read the fine print of the Internet use agreement. In other words, instead of waiting for an appointment at the student services office, you can find answers to your questions without even putting on leaving your living room. (I suppose you could try to see an administrator in person to answer basic questions you can find answers to online, but leaving your house is such a hassle!)

No one reads the student handbook cover to cover (I don’t mean to ostracize people who do), but there is valuable information in the handbook that can be useful to you in almost any given situation. If you need information on school services or how to seek help getting into the program you want, for example, the handbook is a great resource. If you have access to the Student Portal, you can peruse the handbook at your leisure without digging through your desk to find the hard copy you got at Orientation. Access your personal student information beyond your grades. Look at your enrollment status in new programs, look up your official transcripts, and learn more about how to take advantage of the staff support on campus.

In the Student Portal, you can download and print field trip or media release forms if you need to instead of picking them up on campus. You can also find secondary signature sheets and post-secondary signature sheets to fill out if you need to. You don’t have to make two trips to campus to find these forms and turn them in. There are also many information packets that you don’t have to print out and kill trees to read. It’s easy to find and pull up the information you need without digging through all of your orientation material again on the Student Portal.

The Student Portal isn’t a “hack” only a few special students know how to use. It’s a resource for everyone at PTC who needs to check their personal information or who needs to find general information quickly. Take advantage of this resource to maximize your time at PTC.