For those who never completed high school or those who want to pursue a trade or a degree, the new year is a great time to move ahead in education.

Northshore Technical Community College has expanded to meet a variety of educational needs in St. Tammany. Some people have taken classes in welding and HVAC, and others who needed to recover from recent flooding learned rebuilding skills from sheetrocking to tile work.

Through partnerships with Southeastern Louisiana University and most recently, the University of New Orleans, other students have begun course work that will transfer to a school with a four-year degree program.

With locations in Slidell and Mandeville and a new campus soon to open in Lacombe, the community college has much to offer those pursuing education and training beyond high school. In particular, it is a way for those who did not graduate from high school to get back on track.

Adult Education Director Jason Leader wants those potential students who did not complete high school to make 2017 “their year to succeed.” The pathway to achieving a high-school equivalency credential, which before 2014 was called the GED, is now the HiSET exam.

Leader's program prepares St. Tammany students for the HiSET exam.

“We are also the official testing center in St. Tammany,” he said.

The next new student orientation for the HiSET is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. This is an all-day mandatory meeting; bring their own lunch. A valid government issued ID card and Social Security number are required to complete the Intake Assessment Test.

Registration is available online at northshorecollege.edu/adult-education-opportunities/st-tammany-parish-adult-edu. Additional orientations will be held Feb. 6 and March 6.

As part of the enrollment process, students will be tested in reading, math and language. Those who score at the 11th-grade level and above will begin the official practice test for the HiSET. Those who score below than 11th grade will receive individualized lessons to help prepare them for the test.

HiSET preparation classes are offered in Slidell from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, or 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at 61134 N. Military Road.

Classes in Mandeville are held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, or 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at 21454 Koop Drive, Building B, on the third floor.

A third class may be established at the community college's new STEM campus under construction in Lacombe when space is available. Instructor-led classes also are available online, Leader said.

In the period from July 2015 through June, the community college's Adult Education program served 1,016 students in St. Tammany, Leader said. There were 252 HiSETS awarded.

As more students have taken advantage of this program, more teachers have been added. With more than 40 students in the Slidell program, Leader said a third teacher was recently added.

Students who are 16 or 17 years of age can enter the program with an approved age waver from the school board. They must meet one of five criteria, he said, which can include pregnancy or hardship. Those who are age 18 must provide a drop slip from last school attended.

“Those 19 and up can come to us for preparation to take the HiSET,“ he said, or to take the HiSET.

NTCC’s Adult Education also offers English as a Second Language to more than 125 students. Leader said that these students are from countries around the world, and range from those with no higher education to college graduates.

“The goal is that these students master the language and move into the HiSET program, college or the workforce,” he said.

Adult Education also offers other inventive programs to move potential students from HiSET into higher education. There are also state and federal scholarship programs for students in the HiSET program to take college-level classes.

Those who receive their HiSET can go into the community college's workforce programs to upgrade their skills or into Connect to Success, a program that partners with colleges to offer a “bridge” to a bachelor’s degree, he said. Connect to Success is taught at Southeastern’s campus in Hammond.

NTCC is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Council on Occupational Education and is in the process of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation, he said.

Recent statistics posted by NTCC show that last year, about 1,200 students successfully transferred to more than 90 private and public two- and four-year colleges. Of those, 749 transferred to Southeastern. Eight percent of students at the community college last year earned associate degrees or certifications in high-demand fields, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

For information, call (985) 732-6640, ext. 128; email adultedinfo@northshorecollege.edu; or visit northshorecollege.edu/WorkReadyU or facebook.com/NTCCAdultEducation. To learn about the state community college systems, visit lctcs.edu.