Oklahoma's Cooperative Alliance Offers Education Options to Laid- off Workers

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The U.S. unemployment rate is soaring, forcing many people to re- evaluate their careers.

For some that means hitting the books.

"Traditionally during an economic downturn you see an increase in education and the number of students," said Mike Autrey, alliance coordinator and counselor at Tulsa Community College. "A lot of adults are retooling right now and going back and picking up on programs."

Autrey said several adult students are taking advantage of a college credit program that partners Oklahoma career tech centers with colleges and universities.

The Cooperative Alliance program was set up by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology in 2005. The effort allows students enrolled in certain career tech courses to receive college credit. All 29 tech centers in the state are involved in the program.

"It offers students the hands-on skills to be successful at something they may do the rest of their life while working toward a degree at the same time," said Jeff Knapp, spokesman for Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City. "Students looking for college credit may not be aware they can get that with us while they are learning career skills."

It costs students $8 per credit hour.

Under the alliance, Tulsa Technology Center partnered with Tulsa Community College, Rogers State University and the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology.

Tulsa Tech students can earn 3 to 50 college hours through the program.

Gloria Hudson, college coordinator for Tulsa Tech, said since implementing the program enrollment has increased. Last year nearly 900 students from Tulsa Tech were enrolled in the college credit program. …