What does it take to get into college these days? Taylor Adkins is in his second year at Shelton State Community College's Mechatronics program. He says it's a bit like going through a job interview.

"You start off by just simply applying on the website and if you're lucky you'll go take tests here at Shelton then you'll have to go to Mercedes and take hands on training tests after all that you might get an interview. Luckily I did."

In these types of earn-and learn partnerships students not only apply to school but for a job at the nearby Mercedes plant. The seven semester program boasts a 75% placement rate for graduates, but the promise of a job at Mercedes isn't the only draw, says Jason Moore, the associate dean for business and industry training at Shelton State.

"The first semester Mercedes pays 65% of the tuition and if the student keeps a 3.0 grade point average or above the second semester they'll pay 70, third semester they'll pay 80 fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh semester they'll pay 100%."

Alabama's two-year college system is looking to add more programs like the one at Shelton State. Mark Heinrich, chancellor of Alabama's community college system, says the state is in an enviable position.

"We have businesses and industries flooding our state which is a terrific problem to have. So there is a natural affinity towards each other."

Heinrich says there are plans to work with a large company in North Alabama and with Airbus and Hyundai and more could be on the way, but he doesn't want to limit such earn-and-learn partnerships to large industries.

"We are also working with the small business groups in town," he says. 

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