Resources available for adults looking to go back to school

Published 2:59 pm Friday, January 6, 2017

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                                    Northeast TN Reconnect Community Lead College Success Advisor McKenzie Todd provides an update about the program during Thursday's Carter County Community Advisory Board meeting.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Northeast TN Reconnect Community Lead College Success Advisor McKenzie Todd provides an update about the program during Thursday’s Carter County Community Advisory Board meeting.

It is never too late for higher learning.
That’s the recent message given by the state of Tennessee after Gov. Bill Haslam’s initiative “Drive to 55” through TN Reconnect, a program encouraging 55 percent of Tennesseans to be equipped with a college degree or certificate by 2025.
While looking to get back into school may seem like a challenge avenue to go down, organizations like the Northeast Tennessee Reconnect Community are available to help steer individuals in the right direction.
Northeast Tennessee Reconnect Community College Success Lead Advisor McKenzie Todd is on the frontlines with the organization in Carter County. Todd recently spoke to the Carter County Community Advisory Board about what the organization is all about and what is available to members of the region.
“It’s really important to get the word out at the start of the year,” Todd, who also works as an advisor for Unicoi and Johnson counties, said. “The beauty of it all is that families are coming back from the holidays, and maybe those talks came up about going back to school and reflect on it. We’re here to offer help to make sure adults in the community have the chance to go back to school to either get their degree or certification.”
The Reconnect Community officially launched in November and is supported through TN Reconnect and offers free comprehensive college success advisory services, including help with career exploration, assistance with financial aid programs and more, to any individual that is one year removed from high school.
“Anybody is eligibility for services, as long as they are at least one year out of high school and a resident of Tennessee,” she said. “We can help with people looking to attend school out of the state, but they must be a resident of Tennessee.”
Todd works through the Alliance for Business and Training (AB&T) and operates out of the Workforce Development Complex in Carter County, adding that AB&T has an invested interest in the community to make sure citizens are properly equipped to serve the workforce.
Nearly one million adults in the states have started, but haven’t completed secondary or postsecondary school. Of the total, Todd added that roughly 6,100 in the county haven’t completed their education at a college, university of technical school.
“If every high school student from now until 2025 were to move on and graduate from another school, we still wouldn’t reach the 55 percent,” Todd said. “There’s some circumstances where someone is just a credit or two from graduating but were unable to finish, whether it was finances or something else that came up. The opportunities are out there and we want to help the public receive these resources.”
The steps to get involved are simple, Todd added. Interested participants are encouraged to visit website and click the “Get Started” button, which will send users to the Northeast Tennessee Reconnect intake form – which is free to fill out. Following completion of the form, an advisor will have connect the applicant to begin the process of helping the individual attend school.
“That’s one of the best things about this program, we don’t want to inconvenience anyone … we are here for you,” Todd said. “We can talk to somebody over the phone but we can always meet somebody at their earliest convenience for a face-to-face meeting to begin the process.”
For more information, visit the Community’s website or contact Todd via email at or call (423) 547-7515.

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