Every student discovers something different.

Transition and high school students have a lot of questions when it comes to thinking about college. What should I study? Will I get lost between the student center and the library? What’s it like to live in a dorm room? How can the disability services office help me succeed?

One way to start getting answers to these questions is to tour the campus. On May 5th, a group of students from all over Central Oregon gathered in Bend to tour Central Oregon Community College (COCC). The students, along with Youth Transition Program (YTP) specialists from their schools, spent the morning getting a first-hand look at the campus.

 

Becoming familiar with COCC life

The day began with a guided tour through the campus. Getting familiar with the buildings makes the campus feel manageable. Students were impressed by the workout spaces in the Mazama Gym (and the student massage clinics!) along with the outdoor track field and soccer courts. The group also listened to a presentation about how to access disability services, and how to apply for accommodations to meet their needs. 

While touring the academic buildings, they heard about different areas of study. One student was excited to learn about the fire science program, which matched his future goal to work as a firefighter. But the favorite stop on the COCC tour was at the Jungers Culinary Institute where future chefs can focus on general cooking skills, baking and pastry arts or hospitality management. Students toured the kitchens, demonstration areas and student-run restaurant.

At the Culinary Institute, it wasn’t just the amazing facilities or the gorgeous display of desserts that impressed the students—it was the personal discussion with one of the culinary instructors. This chef met with the group and talked about her own challenges with autism. She explained how the culinary school matched her learning style and gave her a path to success. Her story inspired several students to consider studying culinary arts. As one student commented, “I really like art and I didn’t know the cooking school was so creative…I think I could do this.” 

 

Three different takeaways from the tour

What was the take-home message from this tour? Each person arrived with different goals and questions so the answers were different too. Here are three examples of students who gained valid insights for their future. One who decided the time was not right for him to think about college, one who confirmed that a different campus would be better for him, and one who is looking forward to starting COCC classes this fall.

Johnathan Sargent, age 20, graduated from Crook County High School and now lives in Bend. He’s not enrolled in a transition program but gets help with employment and future goals through YTP. Adrianne Goodrich, YTP specialist in Bend, connected Sargent with HeliLadder, a Bend company that manufactures maintenance ladders and work platforms for use with helicopters. Sargent began working at HeliLadder in February of 2022.

“Johnathan is a real success story. He’s been doing a great job for the company and he enjoys it there,” said Goodrich.

Sargent agrees that his job at HeliLadder is a good fit. He likes the quiet, friendly  atmosphere, and the variety of tasks he’s asked to do. He doesn’t feel a need to change his life right now so he’s not in a hurry to enroll in college—but someday he may.

“I’m keeping it in mind. I liked seeing the campus but I’m happy with my job right now. Maybe someday,” he said.

 

Cyrus Belizi, age 18, is currently a senior at Bend High School and will graduate this spring. He works at Bend Camper Company where he helps convert vans into campers. While learning to make and install camper parts, Belizi realized that working with his hands feels rewarding to him. He wants to continue his education after high school and he knows the direction he wants to go.

“I think the COCC campus in Redmond would be better for me because it has more classes in mechanics and construction,” said Belizi. The tour also confirmed for him that he’d be happier on a smaller campus with a tighter focus on hands-on technology and manufacturing.

The COCC Redmond campus has four buildings, including a technology education center that is home to programs in automotive technology, manufacturing, veterinary nursing and small business education.

 

Landon Carrington, age 18, will graduate this spring from Redmond High School. He’s been set on going to college after high school and chose COCC over the University of Oregon because it is more affordable. This tour was his third experience on the COCC campus.

 “The first time, I just walked around with my mom. It was totally overwhelming. But the second time was better and now I feel comfortable. It’s easy,” he said.

Even though Carrington knew his way around campus the tour still had an impact on him. Until the tour, he planned to study history and wasn’t sure what he’d do for a job. But the discussion with the chef at the Culinary Institute was eye-opening for Carrington. As she talked about her journey with autism and the way learning culinary skills clicked for her, Carrington began shifting his goals. He’s now considering the culinary arts and business. 

“She talked about what it was like to work with food. It really made sense to me. She graduated with honors! And I thought if she can do this then so could I! It feels good to know that this is where I want to be next year,” said Carrington.

 

Want more tips on how to tour college on your own? Check out the Transition Network Blog!