Eric Barta earned two-thirds of a Gateway Technical College Information Technology degree – before he even left high school, and for no cost to he or his family.
The 2014 LakeView Technology Academy high school graduate already has earned and has the cost of 52 Gateway credits under his belt, providing him with a huge jumpstart on his career as well as having a good portion of a degree already paid. And … it’s in an industry with employers seeking qualified graduates to fill open job positions.
“Being this far into my education is great,” says Eric. “Some students, like my brother, took AP classes and received enough credit to be second-semester freshmen. I’ll be a few miles ahead of him – I’ll have about a year and a half already.”
LakeView Technology Academy, Pleasant Prairie, is a specialty high school preparing students to enter the fields of engineering or higher level technology. Students are enrolled at Kenosha Unified School District, but also take Gateway courses at the school, taught by college instructors and earn college credit. Many times students earn up to a year’s worth of credits toward a Gateway degree.
Eric earned more than that while at the school, and plans to apply them toward two Gateway degrees – IT-Network Specialist and IT-Security Analyst, two in-demand career fields in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Eric says he’s been interested in computers since middle school. Like many who join the IT career field, Eric says others came to him for help in diagnosing computer problems – and he discovered he liked it so much he wanted to make a career of it. He chose Gateway courses because of the hands-on format of the rigorous courses.
“It’s a very technical environment, and that is what I like,” says Eric. “I have friends who are going to four-year colleges, but I think I will get the training I need at Gateway. I estimated they would pay about $29,220 in tuition. Looking at that, I only have about half of my $10,000 of credit costs left to obtain my degree – which is a lot less than what I would have had to pay if I went to a four-year college to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Eric says the Gateway courses were engaging.
“Instead of taking courses I might not need, I was able to start getting into the nitty-gritty of things, learn what I needed to help me,” he said. “They really push you to be able to gain IT certifications.”
Eric earned his A+ certification and already uses it – as well as the other training he received already through Gateway courses – as a computer system technician for an area company.