Not going to college? KSU Futures program offers alternative career options

"Most high school counselors ask juniors and seniors if they are interested in college after graduation. If the answer is "No," then they may talk to them about the military," said Kim Groves, marketing director for Continuing Education at Kennesaw State University. "We realized that we had another option for non-college-bound high school students. We just needed to make them aware of it."

The KSU Futures program includes 36 established certificate programs with three-to-12 month training units to move people directly into the work force.

"College is not a perfect fit for everyone, especially in these times," Groves said. "There could be academic or life reasons why college isn’t the best choice for their future. Not everyone can afford a college education in this economy. Our certificate programs offer students a direct career path."

The programs offer post-secondary level education that doesn’t require students to take core classes such as history or math. They also don’t need to submit SAT/ACT scores or go through the normal college admissions process.

"Students can jump immediately into something that interests them," Groves said. "We talked to one young man who loves cooking and just wants to be in the kitchen. He’s very excited about our culinary fast track apprenticeship certificate program, which will place him as an apprentice in some of Atlanta’s top restaurants."

Kennesaw State has published a KSU Futures catalogue to let high school counselors and teachers in Cobb, Cherokee, Paulding, Bartow, Pickens and Gordon counties learn more about the programs. On March 11 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., the university is inviting non-college-bound students, their parents and counselors to an open house at the KSU Center.

"The first hour will just be fun, with food, a DJ, prizes and free T-shirts. ‘Scrappy,’ the KSU mascot and some of our cheerleaders will be there, but students will also be able to visit tables to learn more about any of the programs that interest them. Our program managers will be on hand to answer questions," Groves said.

Some of the programs include the Kennesaw Internet professional certificate (nine months), an award-winning program that trains people to be Web designers; legal assistant certificate (five months); bookkeeper certificate (six months); meeting and event planning certificate (20 weeks); and technical writing certificate (two months).

"Many of the programs are in the medical field and very much in demand. Health care is one of the economic sectors that are growing," Groves said.

KSU also offers certificate training in these fields: certified nursing assistant, EKG technician, phlebotomy, medical office assistant, pharmacy technician and personal trainer.

"Many of these certificates lead to good-paying jobs and give students a foot in the door in health care," Groves said. "If they like the career field, they can always decide to continue their education to become nurses, physician assistants, paramedics or other allied health care professionals."

Many certificates lead to well-paying jobs with little initial tuition investment. For example, students could earn the medical billing and coding certificate online in about six months for $1,995. With more hospitals, doctors’ offices, outpatient care centers and health care agencies moving to electronic medical records, the occupation is projected to grow faster than average jobs through 2018. The average salary is around $31,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

High school graduates who acquire basic office skills, such as KSU’s three month Microsoft Office Certificate ($1,352), and who have good writing, word processing and communication skills, can find jobs as secretaries or administrative staffers. They could be hired by companies or temporary staffing agencies, earning from the high $20,000s to the mid-$30,000s to start.

"Our economy has many skills-based occupations that require some training, but not a college degree. That’s a great option for someone who isn’t ready for four more years of academics, but would like to be prepared for the work force," Groves said.

To learn more about KSU Futures program or the March 11 open house, call 770-423-6765 or go to

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