Colorado Mountain College president Dr. Carrie Hauser rallies fifth-graders to set college as a goal | VailDaily.com

Colorado Mountain College president Dr. Carrie Hauser rallies fifth-graders to set college as a goal

EAGLE — Dr. Carrie Hauser smiles at the room packed with bright fifth-grade faces and asks what they want from their futures.

Their rapid-fire responses were enthusiastic and varied: architect, NFL player, snowboard professional, president of the United States, Air Force pilot, Navy SEAL, SpaceX engineer … their possibilities are endless.

Hauser's smiling answer was consistent: "Still gotta go to college."

Here's why.

"Most careers that people might not think require a college degree, do require a college degree. By the time you graduate high school, almost every career will require some form of college," Hauser said.

By 2020, 74 percent of jobs in Colorado will require some form of postsecondary education, making Colorado's demand for college-educated adults fifth highest in the nation. Research from the Colorado Workforce Development Council shows that 97 percent of Colorado high-growth, in-demand jobs that pay a living wage require education or training beyond high school.

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The Colorado Mountain College district area covers 12,000-square miles in nine Colorado counties, three national forests, six wilderness areas and most of Colorado's major ski resorts. In one of the most ambitious offseason road trips ever, Hauser will appear at many different schools.

"You live in a beautiful place. Maybe you want to go away to college, or maybe you want to stay here," Hauser said in a spirited exchange with fifth-graders at Brush Creek Elementary School in Eagle.

The first order of college business is not business.

"Have fun," came the first reply when Hauser asked what's best about college.

How those kids define fun is a personal matter. Answers ranged from "reading lots of books" to "sports" to "meeting new people and making new friends" to "dissection."

Hauser pointed out quickly and excitedly that CMC has a dissection lab at its Edwards campus.

You can also study in lots of other countries. One Brush Creek fifth-grade college prospect student had been to Paris, and not the one in Texas.

You'll be well served to start college sooner rather than later, Hauser said.

Eagle County Schools has a program to start taking CMC classes while you're in high school, and that counts for college credit. Ever year, several local high school students earn enough college credits that they're awarded their high school diplomas and associates degrees within days of each other.

In fact, Eagle County Schools has a deal with CMC to pick up the tab for the first two years of CMC costs through state funding. If you go that route, then CMC classes will not cost you one thin dime.

Even if you don't, then CMC can cost as little as $2,000 per year, Hauser said.

"That makes CMC the state's most affordable college," Hauser said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.