EGCC Honored for Financial Literacy, Career Development Programs

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The 2020-21 academic year has been an oddity for Eastern Gateway Community College. EGCC has seen growth since the start of the pandemic while other community colleges have experienced a drop in enrollment, said President Michael Geoghegan.

Some of the reasons for the college’s success are its focus on financial literacy and low cost. On Tuesday, EGCC was recognized for its work in those areas when Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague awarded the institution with the Compass Award.

The Compass Award, which Sprague created, honors organizations, programs and individuals who focus on improving financial literacy in Ohio.

“In many cases, what we want to see are real results from these financial literacy programs – when we know students are getting something out of it and are able to apply those skills,” Sprague said.

The heart of Eastern Gateway’s finical literacy success stems from its Career Development Center. The development center helps students gain insight into their degrees and career paths, helps with resume writing and teaches interviewing skills.

Sprague said EGCC stood out for its ability to identify pathways for students, its ability to connect students with employers or universities and its curriculum that focuses on future careers.

He also applauded Eastern Gateway’s ability to keep student debt to a minimum. The community college has a program called the EGCC Guarantee, which provides free education for students from Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Jefferson counties.

“A great way on the step for financial literacy and financial understanding is that we’re providing an opportunity for breaking down a barrier for cost and navigating the complex structure of getting financial aid loans and so on and so forth,” Geoghegan said.

One of the programs that piqued Sprague’s interest was Eastern Gateway’s associate track in entrepreneurship.

Geoghegan has also seen increased interest in a number of fields over the last year. Specifically, students are focusing more in business, nursing, criminal justice and technology.

“There’s many, many opportunities to do your own startups now, especially with all the apps available,” Geoghegan said. “Whether it’s finances for attending college or going out and getting loans for the future.”

Eastern Gateway provided a majority of its classes online prior to the pandemic. And because of its model, the community college wasn’t significantly impacted when schools, such as Youngstown State University, had to transition from in-person classes to online.

As of the spring, Eastern Gateway has 43,000 students enrolled across the country, with roughly 1,000 taking in-person classes at both the Steubenville and Youngstown campuses, Geoghegan said. There is an addition 1,300 students enrolled at the community college who are preparing to make the jump to higher education.

Eastern Gateway has seen a 50% increase year over year in enrollment, he noted.

“I think what you’re seeing across the state, especially at the community colleges and nationally, is about a 10% drop-off in enrollment at public two-year community colleges,” Geoghegan said. “That’s certainly being experienced in Ohio, but not at Eastern Gateway.”

Eastern Gateway found a way to navigate the pandemic. And Geoghegan said the acknowledgement from Sprague and the state is a credit to the staff’s attention to student success, both in the classroom and in the real world.

“I think to be recognized by the treasurer of the state, it’s a great honor,” Geoghegan said. “But it’s a tribute to our faculty and our staff and the people who run our career services program.”

Pictured: On hand for the event were Zak Steiner, EGCC director of career development, Art Daly, vice president of EGCCs Youngstown campus, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague and EGCC President Michael Geoghegan.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.