Renton, Wash. — As the soon-to-be graduates snaked their way toward the stage during Renton Technical College’s commencement ceremony, a handful of graduates stood out from the others.
Commencement ceremonies for community and technical colleges are always a sight to behold. Graduates often forgo traditional caps and gowns and instead don the symbols of their new professions. At RTC’s commencement, graduates of the culinary program opted to wear the traditional tall hats and chefs coats you’d see at an upscale restaurant. Registered nurses forgo the college’s official colors and instead opted for head-to-toe white, the traditional color for those in their profession.
Yet, amongst the hundreds of graduates, a small group stood out from all the others. Not because of what they wore, but because they marked the first graduates of High School 21+, also known as HS21+, a new program which is designed to help adult learners earn their high school diplomas. Introduced at RTC in 2014 with a class of just seven, enrollment in the program has continued to grow. This year’s commencement ceremony included more than 70 adults who had recently earned their high school diplomas through HS21+.
The reasons the program has become so popular, so quickly, are twofold. First, because the high level of student support weaved into the program. Second, because it gives the institution a way of taking individual life experiences into account during instruction. Upon entry to RTC, students are assessed to determine educational gaps. Then their advisers create a customized learning plan. Each student must demonstrate competency in reading, writing, and math in the context of science, history, government, occupational studies, and digital literacy. Every student in the program works with an adviser and an instructor to create an individual college and career plan.
The pace and curriculum for each student is individually tailored. One student, a native of Vietnam who emigrated to the U.S. 25 years ago, took two years to finish his studies. Another student, originally from Mexico, took just two months to complete the program and receive her degree.
“We’ve been so pleased with the response. Since RTC’s founding back in 1941, we’ve focused on preparing students for careers. We all know a high school diploma is the first step toward better jobs and higher wages. We see helping people earn their diplomas as yet another step toward developing a skilled workforce,” said Jenna Pollock, Dean of RTC’s Basic Studies program.
Direct all media inquiries to:
Renton Technical College