Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 8, 2013

NMC hopes to award 1st 4-year degree in January


“By far, the biggest reason we lose cadets is finances,” he said. “These are really, really good people. They’re passing classes, and it’s a very tough academy. But in today’s economy, it’s, ‘I’m just out of money, and I can’t afford another semester.’ Or even worse, ‘My mom and dad lost their jobs, and I have to go home.’”

The maritime program — at $372 per credit hour — is NMC’s most expensive, yet graduates can count on lucrative salaries and a 100 percent job placement rate.

“The average salary for graduates is at least $60,000 for those who are six to eight months on sea, and in some cases it’s higher,” Achenbach said. “Industry jobs go anywhere from dinner cruises to super tankers.”

The program also prepares cadets for onshore jobs, but 100 percent of graduates are choosing to go to sea, where job demand and salaries are highest, he said.

“They’ve got student debt, and they want to pay it down as quickly as possible,” Achenbach said.

Up until now, NMC’s maritime academy was the only one in the country that didn’t offer a bachelor’s degree, he said.

“That’s why it’s very important,” Achenbach said. “It puts us on the same level as the six other maritime academies in the nation.”

The NMC maritime academy — the only one located on a freshwater body — is operating at full capacity, with 168 students. There are no current plans for expansion, although Achenbach hopes to welcome back alumni who earned only associate’s degrees.

Community college baccalaureates were made possible when the Michigan legislature approved a bill in December 2012, subsequently signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in January 2013 that authorized the state’s 28 community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in four areas: maritime technology, energy production, culinary and cement technology.



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