Archived Story

Online tool helps build educational and career ‘map’

Published 9:30am Wednesday, April 3, 2013

by Dr. Paul Wm. Conco

There are a lot of helpful Web sites out there to review jobs, careers and colleges. In Virginia, we have an excellent resource that is a “one-stop” for most of the important information as you search and explore a new career or continue your education. The Web site is the Virginia Education Wizard—VaWizard.org—and is a partnership between the Department of Education, the Virginia Community College System and several other state agencies.

Launched in 2009 by the Virginia Community College System, the “Wizard” helps guide prospective students, current students and workers in making informed college and career decisions.

Borne out of an increasing need for valuable educational resources that not only relates to today’s jobs, but jobs predicted to grow in the future, the Virginia Education Wizard provides a one-stop resource for career, curriculum and financial information. It is designed to assist individual career counseling services that are available on campus.

Community colleges are in the forefront when it comes to continuing education. For many, accessibility, affordability and value are important factors when choosing to attend a community college. For others, it is the need for a career change or help in choosing a career path. Many students are still in need of assistance when selecting programs of study or career paths. Paul D. Camp Community College (PDCCC) encourages the use of the “Wizard” as a valuable online tool for assistance in a variety of areas.

The tool is also recommended to anyone utilizing the new Career Development Centers at PDCCC, which assist students in career exploration and college programs. In addition, the program helps students, alumni and other members of the community prepare for job searches and successful interviews. One of the free workshops offered through the Career Development Center focuses on career exploration using the “Wizard.”

Students in the high school dual enrollment program can benefit tremendously by using the “Wizard” as well. Participants in this unique program earn high school and college credits simultaneously. Since this program has the potential to shorten the route to completing a college degree, the “Wizard” becomes an important tool to map out a solid plan based on the profile information the student provides.

Prospective students can identify career paths; curriculum choices, including potential transfers to four-year institutions; and financial aid assistance. Current students can keep up with their job credentials or associate degree paths and plans for transfer to complete bachelor degrees. Workers can explore new careers, learn about education requirements or certification tools, and enroll in Virginia’s Community Colleges.

The “Wizard’s” online guide—a unique and interactive avatar—named Ginny, answers frequently asked questions about college and helps first-timers build their individual profiles. Users can then take an interest assessment that suggests potential careers that match the users’ interests; or a values assessment that supports what users value in a job with potential career choices; browse careers by name to learn more about them, which includes real-time information about job availability and market-specific salaries; or browse careers by cluster, which allows users to begin with a group of related careers and conduct a deeper analysis to explore specific career options.

In these economic times, paying for college becomes more and more of a concern. The Cost Calculator estimates and compares costs at various types of colleges. In addition, the Award Estimator can provide estimates on how much and what type of financial aid users can expect based on the financial data the user provides. The Wizard can also guide users in applying for financial aid, detail scholarship offers and tell you how to apply for them.

The Wizard allows users to search Community College transfer agreements, including guaranteed admission to 25 Virginia four-year colleges and universities; and plan, track and prompt steps to an easy transfer.

PDCCC encourages people to visit the Virginia Education Wizard’s one-stop shop. It provides vital information for all types of students and potential students no matter in what direction you’re headed or what stage you are in your career. It will keep you on track to your degree or career—or as you work on a new career—saving time and money, and ultimately enhancing your higher educational experience.

Visit www.vawizard.org to create your profile. The Wizard may also be found on PDCCC’s website, www.pdc.edu

Dr. Paul Wm. Conco is president of Paul D. Camp Community College. His email is pconco@pdc.edu

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