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STLCC Career Programs Offer a Competitive Alternative to Four-Year Colleges

April 03, 2012

Jenna Boyko  
Interior design student Jenna Boyko won a Merit Award in the
2011 Daltile Interior Design Scholarship Competition, in which
she competed against studentsfrom all over the United States,
including several who attend four-year institutions.

As the saying goes, "Things are tough all over." The economy is still struggling, and recovery is slow. Layoffs are more common than not.

Consequently, many return to school to earn or finish the degree they’ve wanted for so long. They turn to four-year colleges and universities, hoping that the knowledge earned can help them find a job.

But the up-front cost of tuition and the debt from student loans can dash those hopes.

Fortunately, four-year colleges aren’t the only answer. Students who attend two-year schools are gaining the knowledge needed to not only stay afloat in these rough economic waters, but also compete head-to-head with four-year college grads.

At a cost of $88 per credit hour for residents of the district, career and technical programs at St. Louis Community College provide an education students can use in an unstable job market at a cost they can afford. The tuition and fees are among the lowest in the state of Missouri, allowing students to graduate with a degree or certificate with little, if any, outstanding loans.

David Burnett and Sandy Chiu were classmates in a commercial interior design class at STLCC-Meramec. They were given an assignment to create a community health center that utilized traditional medicine with contemporary treatments – in just two weeks.

Designing a health center isn’t just about arranging space and choosing color schemes. Working in teams, students created a health care center combining traditional medicine and contemporary treatments while keeping building codes, regulatory codes, privacy and security in mind. 

“During the first week they researched areas in St. Louis that were underserved in terms of health care,” said Erin LeClerc, coordinator of the Meramec interior design and kitchen and bath programs. “They then worked on implementing their research into a completed designs the second week.”

Their design won the Midwest Regional Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) Student Design Competition, which included entries from four-year colleges and universities. Students Kelly Collett and Tricia Bisoux, also from the commercial interior design class, received an honorable mention in the same design competition.

“We were so excited to have two groups place in the IDEC student design competition. We were competing against some of the best four-year interior design schools in the Midwest,” said LeClerc. “Placing in this prestigious competition proves that St. Louis Community College’s interior design program continues to foster an atmosphere that challenges students to exceed their expectations.”

Students at two-year colleges are not only competitive with four-year college students, but thriving with them.

Jenna Boyko came to Meramec with a bachelor's degree in fine arts in hand. In her third semester as an interior design student, she won a Merit Award in the 2011 Daltile Interior Design Scholarship Competition, a national competition in which she competed against students from all over the country, including several four-year institutions.

“Being only a third-semester student competing with four-year school students and winning a merit award, I think definitely says where this program has taken me in this short time,” she said. “All of the teachers in the program were more than willing to help me prepare and make my project the best it could be for this competition. It was extremely helpful and appreciated. 

“Meramec has all of the programs right at my fingertips to learn and use,” she added. “I have learned many of them. Design presentation has also been important and there has been a lot of support to become stronger in that area as well.”

In November, STLCC and the University of Missouri signed an articulation agreement, allowing students who have earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Interior Design to complete a Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences in Architectural Studies with an Emphasis in Interior Design at MU, guaranteeing that MU will accept designated freshman and sophomore credits toward the bachelor’s degree. The kitchen and bath certificate is fully accredited by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the only program of its type in Missouri with that distinction.

STLCC is hosting an information session for those who wish to find out more about the interior design and kitchen and bath certificate programs 5:30-7 p.m. April 19 in Room 201 in the Student Center 201 at Meramec, 11333 Big Bend Road in Kirkwood. Registration is requested. Call 314-539-5002 or visit www.stlcc.edu/visit.

For more information, call 314-539-5002 or e-mail AskUs@stlcc.edu. Individuals with disabilities who need accommodations should call 314-539-5002.