Dover Campus Reaches Out to Local High School Students

Connecting with these prospective students opens up potential career paths

Latasha Stamas, Director of Education, and Francine Finger, Director of Career Services, present information to High School Students about potential career paths in health & allied health service education at the Harris School of Business, Dover DE campus.
Latasha Stamas, (left) Director of Education, and Francine Finger, Director of Career Services, from our Dover campus, present information to Lake Forest High School students about potential career paths in health & allied health services. Insets show medical samples brought to pique student’s interest in the educational programs offered.

Going to a traditional college isn’t for everyone—many people don’t want to spend the money (or take out the necessary loans). But there are also lots of smart, motivated young people who simply want to get on the fast track to a job. The Harris School of Business provides real options for ongoing education in career-focused training. Two members of the leadership team at Harris’s Dover campus routinely respond to this demand by visiting local high schools, to answer questions and discuss the school’s various programs.

On a Tuesday in late November, Latasha Stamas, Dover’s Director of Education, and Francine Finger, the school’s Director of Career Services, spent several hours at nearby Lake Forest High School in Felton, DE, connecting with the students there. We talked with Finger for some details about this most recent school visit.

The biggest turnout yet

Lake Forest is one of the local high schools that has traditionally drawn students to Harris, so these visits are part of an ongoing outreach effort. “Local high schools often ask us to come and talk to students during their lunch break, or when they’re having a career day,” says Finger. Usually they do one or two sessions with 15 or 20 students. “This time we had a terrific turnout—there were 75 students in the auditorium.”

Normally the duo sets up a table and invites students to ask questions, but this time they took to the stage and did a casual presentation. They set out a bowl full of candy and answered questions (“Students always love that,” Finger notes). “At one point I even came off the stage and sat with the students in the audience,” she adds. “We did whatever we could to help them feel comfortable.”

“It was our most successful high school visit yet,” Finger says. “We were only supposed to talk for about half an hour. But there were so many students with questions that we happily stayed and kept talking.” They were there for nearly 90 minutes. Students were leaving the presentation and telling their friends to check it out.

Visual aids engage the students

One of the ways that the duo engages the high school students is to bring along some medical samples, from an assortment of bones to bottles of formaldehyde containing oddities such as kidneys and a pig fetus. “They catch everyone’s interest,” Finger says, “and they give us the opportunity to tell students that, when you’re considering a career, it’s important to pay attention to what inspires you.” They notice that these items tend to seem cool and exciting to someone who’s interested in a clinical field, like Medical Assisting, or especially the Surgical Technology program. For students who are “grossed out” by this stuff, but still interested in healthcare, they suggest something more like Dover’s Health Claims Specialist or Massage Therapy programs. Those students get the idea that they can still choose a career where they interact with people, without being so hands-on with the “blood and guts” that might intrigue the other students. Finger and Stamas also bring formal poster presentations about the Massage Therapy program’s coordination with spa chains Massage Envy and Hand & Stone. These are always met with a high degree of interest.

What high school students want to know

“Students want in-depth information about each program,” Finger continues. She’s highly familiar with the Medical Assisting program, as is Stamas, who’s also an experienced Surgical Technician and also knows the ins and outs of the Health Claims Specialist program. (Sometimes they bring along the Dover campus Externship Coordinator Bilonna Dilling, to offer additional insights.) Finger and Stamas do their best to offer details they’ll find useful and provide resources for them to continue their research.

Here’s an overview of what students typically ask:

  • How long do the training programs last? “When we tell them that you can be finished and out working in less than a year, they get excited,” Finger says.
      • Health Claim Specialist—Day program: 9 months; Night program: 18 months
      • Massage Therapy—Day program: 5 months; Night program: 10 months
      • Professional Medical Assistant—Day program: 9 months; Night program: 18 months
      • Surgical Technician—Day program only: 15 months
  • What is the school’s success rate, in terms of job placement? Finger is proud to report to students that the Dover campus’s overall placement rate is about 85 percent. “This inspires a lot of confidence that their time at Harris will be worth it,” she says.

Another way Finger knew the presentation was a success was that she’d set out a big stack of business cards, and by the end, there were none left. “We encourage students to take home information about the areas they were interested in, and to talk over these options with their parents.”

More outreach ahead for 2018

Finger and Stamas have discovered that, when they visit local high schools, many of the students aren’t even aware that this professional training school exists—right down the road. “So we do all we can to get out into the community,” she says. They’ll visit the same schools again when there’s a new batch of seniors.

There will be more of these visits in 2018. She and Stamas are currently working on a more formal PowerPoint presentation to take to different schools. They also plan to bring along a recent Harris graduate—a success story who can talk first-hand about the student experience at Harris. You’re even likely to see them set up a table at the local farmers’ market every Tuesday (year-round). We’ll keep you posted about where they travel in 2018!

There are Harris School of Business campuses at eight locations in New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Find out more about the professional training programs we offer in allied health and business management. Visit us online to request information, or call 1.800.510.7920 to learn about our career-focused education.