“A Great Experience": Graduating Students Reflect on Time at ChattState

November 17, 2023 | Payton Potter | Student Success

A ChattState student talks to a bookstore worker during the Fall 2023 grad finale.

CHATTANOOGA, TN -- As the December 2023 graduation approaches, Chattanooga State Community College students are preparing for the next chapter. Some students plan to return to their jobs, and some are forging a path to new employment. Others are preparing to start classes at four-year universities in the spring. 

Rachel B., a university transfer student, has her gaze set on an ambitious future. 

Rachel, who will graduate from ChattState on Dec. 8, 2023, said she aims to complete her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. While there, she intends to study psychology and criminal justice to become a forensic social worker. 

Tell us about your experience as a ChattState student. 

“I had a great experience at ChattState. I got my HiSET diploma before coming here, so I didn’t attend high school. It was very intimidating at first, and then I came here, and all my professors were really nice. It has been a great experience. I’ve done student government and honors, and it’s a very welcoming environment for people who aren’t super into the whole education thing.” 

Rachel B., a university transfer student, signs a banner for graduates.What do you plan to do after you graduate? 

“I’m planning on transferring to UTC in 2025, getting a four-year degree, and then finishing a master’s degree. I’m not sure what I want to do for work yet. I really liked forensic psychology, but that requires a doctorate degree, and I’m not sure if I can do that. I’m thinking about maybe doing forensic social work because that requires a master’s degree. I think that might be a little more attainable for me.” 

University Transfer programs are educational pathways that prepare students for enrollment at a 4-year college. Students who complete Tennessee Transfer Pathways programs are guaranteed that their community college courses will be accepted at a number of public and private universities in the state

Transfer programs at ChattState are available in business and information technologies, engineering technology, humanities and fine arts, math and sciences, and social and behavioral sciences concentrations. 

Sarah C., who studied web design, had a simple directive for anyone considering getting a collegiate education as an adult student: “Just do it! It’s definitely worth it.” 

Sarah said the flexibility of online classes paired with financial aid through the Tennessee Reconnect program made it possible for her to attend school as a stay-at-home parent in a single-income family. 

Tell us about your experience as a ChattState student. 

“If I had not been able to take online classes, I probably wouldn’t have been able to attend college. It helped because I could work at my own pace. I could get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and do homework before the kids got up. I could do it after they went to sleep or while they were at school. It was a huge advantage.” 

Did you take advantage of financial aid options while studying at ChattState? 

“I did financial aid and Tennessee Reconnect. It helped big time. That’s how I was able to afford to go to school. We could stay a single-income family, and I could still be a stay-at-home mom. If it weren’t for financial aid, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school.” 

ChattState’s web design concentration prepares students for a career in developing and creating websites. Jobs in this field include designer, digital art director, interactive developer, lead developer, and web communications specialist. ChattState students can complete a web design technical certificate or an associate degree

ChattState offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, including paramedic training, which is what brought Jenny F. to the college. 

Jenny is a captain at Chattanooga Fire Department, where she has worked for 18 years. She attended ChattState to receive a paramedic accreditation, which she said she will use to help teach her colleagues. 

Jenny said attending college as an adult student presented unique challenges: “Being older and not used to the flow of college, the only issue I had was trying to find out where I needed to go and where things were.” 

Despite her reservations, the help of advisors and professors helped her navigate ChattState with ease, she said. 

“Please go to your advisors,” she said. “They will help you navigate the things that can be challenging, like knowing where to start. That’s my advice for both younger and older students.” 

ChattState offers Nursing & Allied Health certificates and degrees to prepare students for careers as emergency medical technicians and paramedics. With academic support services, clubs and organizations, and career counseling available at ChattState, students who start here can go anywhere. Prospective students can learn more or submit an application online.