Older teens or young adults sitting around your house, twiddling their thumbs or video-gaming non-stop, under the stay-at-home order? Or have you long hoped to pursue higher education but had to put it off because of work? Now is the time to prepare for the future, to follow that educational dream.

Except for the University of Hawaiʻi-Mänoa, most University of Hawaiʻi campuses across the state are still taking student applications for fall 2020 semester through Aug. 1, with some schools, such as UH Hilo, extending their original deadlines to that date. At UHM, summer 2020 undergraduate classes are also available to all students at less-expensive, Hawaiʻi-resident rates.

While it seems counter-intuitive to dish out tuition during a global financial downturn, this is exactly what foreword-thinking people have done for decades. A little-known fact about schooling and the economy is that, in every single recession since the 1960s — including the Great Recession of 2008 — U.S. college enrollment has increased (see interview of Stanford University economics professor Caroline Hoxby at news.stanford.edu/2015/03/06/higher-ed-hoxby-030615/). Simply put, people decide to invest in their futures, so as not to be vulnerable during the next worldwide economic catastrophe.

In Hawaiʻi, the competitive educational level is high. 91.8% of adults aged 25 or older have graduated from high school, with 32.5% of such adults earning bachelor degrees or higher, according to the American Community Survey (drawing from 2014-18 US Census data). For local workers, higher education is no longer a luxury, but a basic requirement, distinguishing managers and professionals from employees who lack workplace status or authority.

For those vulnerable to COVID-19, many distance-learning classes across the entire UH system — in fact, whole AA, BA and even MA degrees as well as professional certificate programs — are now offered fully online (uhonline.hawaii.edu/programs).

Some campuses, such as Kapʻiolani Community College, offer short-term, accelerated vocational training, most of which are run via distance-learning. KapCC even grants free tuition for programs to help students enter into immediate, “recession-free” careers in healthcare education, to procure jobs such as physician’s/medical assistant (starting wage $12-18/hour), dental assistant (starting pay $15-19/hour), nursing assistant (starting wage $15-17/hour), or optometry assistant; phlebotomy technician (diagnostic lab blood work; starting pay $16-18/hour) or pharmacy technician (starting pay $13-20/hour); and community health workers or CHWs (including outreach workers, case workers, eligibility workers, etc.).

With real-life employment to begin either during or right after coursework, KapCC’s Rapid Health Education Programs feed right into the job market. Many such programs ask for a commitment to being hired by community employers in exchange for no out-of-pocket tuition costs, as they are funded by a Federal Apprenticeship U.S.A. State Expansion grant given to that campus through the State Dept. of Labor and Industrial Relations, so as to create a career pathway in high-demand areas of the healthcare field. Interested people must attend a Zoom information session; for more information, contact marcusjt@hawaii.edu or martincs@hawaii.edu, or visit kapiolani.hawaii;.edu/rhep, or youtube.com/watch?v=YcZ27-m2j6w&feature=youtu.be.

UH-system applications can be found at westoahu.hawaii.edu/admissions/ for UHWO; hilo.hawaii.edu/admissions/ for UH Hilo; maui.hawaii.edu/how-to-apply/ for Maui College; and uhcc.hawaii.edu/howto_apply/admissions.php for the UH Community Colleges (individual UHCCs may display varied deadlines). For distance-learning courses across the UH system, visit uhonline.hawaii.edu/courses/.   

The UH Community Colleges are even offering a select range of free courses this summer to high-school graduates from the class of 2020. Next rounds of these classes run from June 22-July 2 (a $248 value) and July 6-Aug. 14 (a $744 value). This Next Step program (uhcc.hawaii.edu/nextstep/) was created so that “high school graduates can explore their career options and discover the education and training needed to reach their goals. Participating students will earn credit toward a college degree and may have opportunities to earn additional scholarships.” To learn about NextStep, visit hawaii.edu/news/2020/05/17/free-community-college-classes-hawaii-2020-class/.


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