LAMPASAS — For many people, the idea of returning to the classroom after receiving a high school diploma is not in their future plans. But for others, finding a classroom beyond formal education may be an absolute necessity.
The Lampasas County Higher Education Center continues to expand those opportunities for students in Central Texas.
Chief Operating Officer Amy McDaniel said the educational advantages for students at LCHEC are more attainable now than ever before.
“Our goal is to bring opportunities closer to home in a rural area,” McDaniel said. “People may not want to drive to Killeen to get workforce training, or they may not be able to afford the commuting costs to get there. We are devoted to offering educational opportunities that are convenient and affordable.”
McDaniel said LCHEC programs have grown steadily since the center was established in 2009, and students enroll for a variety of reasons.
“Maybe they have been laid off, they need to finish their high school education or feel compelled to change career paths,” she said. “We also offer courses that are required by employers for career fields such as restaurant management.”
LCHEC formed a partnership with Central Texas College several years ago to bring college-level credit courses to the Lampasas area. Since then, the center has expanded its offerings to include popular courses such as allied health careers in medical administration, pharmacy technician, EKG, medical billing and coding, nurse aid training and phlebotomy.
This fall, the center will add certified medical assistant courses to the list and hopes to add veterinary technician training soon.
“In our partnership, we continue to offer the space and equipment for CTC courses, and they provide the instructors,” McDaniel said. “In January, we began offering our own allied health careers in-house, so we hire our own instructors, usually local professionals, and now we can pass that savings on to our students. Most of those classes are in the evening and that makes it convenient for people who are working.”
McDaniel said their most popular course is for nurse aid training. Since the center began conducting its own health classes, the cost for that course dropped from $1,200 to $700, she said.
“There are tons of jobs in that field; there are so many openings, and we try to offer job placement assistance, although we cannot guarantee students a job,” McDaniel said. “Each instructor does a resume review, mock interviews and research for job openings in our area.”
Currently, scholarship opportunities are only available for college credit courses with CTC, but the center hopes to begin adding scholarships for allied health careers.
LCHEC receives funding from Lampasas County, the Lampasas Economic Development Corporation, tuition and private donations. The center also is expanding its partnership base with online partners, such as those that provide continuing education courses for real estate professionals. Each referral generates a small profit.
“Every time someone signs up for these courses, we receive funds to promote the programs,” McDaniel said. “Continuing education provides little profit margin, but in the meantime, we should be sustainable with the workforce training programs ... even with the lower tuition rates.”
For more information or to register for classes, call (512) 556-8226 or go to www.lchec.com.