Back To Your Future

Is this a great time to head back to school?

Eastern New Mexico University
Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is New Mexico’s largest regional comprehensive university. It has a four-year campus in Portales, and two-year campuses in both Roswell and Ruidoso. The ENMU Aviation Science department is located at Roswell Airport, and includes a modern facility along with a wide variety of instructional aides that includes a Boeing 727. The ENMU AMT program was certified around 1968, and boasts a reputation as being a school that trains well-qualified entry-level mechanics.

Presently, there are about 20 to 25 majors on site in ENMU’s AMT program. ENMU actively markets its programs and recruits prospective students at career fairs at regional high schools and military bases, and also advertises on radio, TV, billboards, through AMT trade magazines, as well as online and by word-of-mouth.

Dusty Heritage, assistant vice president for academic affairs, had some interesting comments about the challenges ENMU faces in attracting students to its aviation programs. She says that it has seen ups and downs in enrollment in the aviation programs, and she argues that it is difficult to combat the negative messages as shown in the media.

Heritage says that one company’s layoffs or another’s loss incident causes the mainstream media to jump over the entire industry, and not take into account the thousands of meaningfully employed workers in aviation, as well as the industry’s high record of efficiency and safety when shipping goods or traveling by air.

Like other schools, ENMU’s budgets are tight, so it tries to promote the value of the school, and is proud of the fact that ENMU is affordable, so students won’t hit the work force and start under the burden of student loans and other unnecessary debt. Tuition for ENMU’s in-state student in 2008-2009 was $600 per semester to attend full time. Out-of-state students paid $2,060. Additionally, students receive up to 72 hours credit for an A&P certificate (See sidebar). ENMU also offers in-state rates during its summer sessions, as well as an online degree program for professional AMTs.

This can be an attractive option for AMTs that are currently employed, or for some reason cannot travel. According to Robert Elliott, the director of the Aviation Science Program, students in this degree program may complete all of their required courses online. Students can choose from two degree options:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in aviation science (requires 40 hours of upper division courses)
  • Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science (BAAS) degree in aviation science (requires 18 hours of upper-division courses)

These programs are perfect for those mid-level professional AMTs that have leveled off in their careers or are ready for the next step, generally have some management experience, and in some cases, are currently doing management-level work, but do not have the title or pay grade. Often these individuals find it difficult to move into management because they lack the formal education necessary to meet management position requirements. Online programs such as ENMU’s can provide them an opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree at their convenience.

The many advantages of a college degree
According to Elliott, even if the job that you are applying for or currently hold does not require a college degree, people with degrees tend to be more likely to move into the management positions. Employers not only choose them, but are more likely to also pay them more, even in cases where a college degree is not a mandatory prerequisite for the job. The U.S. Department of Labor’s quarterly Occupational Outlook report indicates the median salary of employees with a bachelor’s degree is more than 60 percent higher than that of employees with a high school degree.

It is my strongly held opinion that there has never been a better time or the reasons stronger to obtain a college degree. A college degree is your passport to a better future. While a college degree in and of itself does not make you smarter or better, it does open doors and gives you opportunities that you would not otherwise get. Your families, employers, and the community at large are willing to support you when you are enrolled in college. It always amazes me to see the remarkable change in the attitude of employers once you made the decision to go back to college and obtain your degree. If you lose your job and can find a way to go back to school, I hope you will consider doing so. Getting a certification or degree will speak volumes about you in your next interview, and could launch your career in new and exciting directions.

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