Many good reasons to celebrate

Community colleges vital in education system

When it comes to attending college or pursuing a career, everyone’s goals are different. For some, it is important to get into the workforce quickly in an in-demand, high-paying career. For others, they are looking for a more affordable start to a bachelor’s degree without a mountain of debt.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an option that solved both of these problems?

There is, community college, and April is Community College Awareness Month.

Community College offers students two paths: transfer or direct to the workforce. By transferring, students can transfer credits earned at a lower tuition cost, and continue on to earn their bachelor’s degree. A career path allows the student to quickly earn the degree or credential from a wide variety of program choices and afford them a competitive opportunity to enter the job market.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), “Nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States attend community colleges with good reason. These open-access institutions serve a diverse student population with diverse needs. From recent high school graduates to adult learners, the affordability and flexibility offered by community colleges can help put any person’s educational and career goals within reach.”

The AACC also cites that in fall 2014, Community Colleges nationwide served more than 12 million students with 62 percent of them attending part-time. At the end of the 2014 academic year, nearly 800,000 associate degrees and nearly 500,000 certificates were awarded.

When it comes to the job market, within the next 10 years, two-thirds of new jobs will require skills that exceed a high school degree. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in their Current Population Survey that students who graduate with an associate degree make median annual earnings of $41,496, and will see $400,000 more in lifetime earnings than those with a high school diploma.

Lumina Foundation recommends that states adopt a goal of 60 percent of their workforce, which is those between the ages of 24-65, have a postsecondary credential. Ivy Tech Community College has hit the ground running and is determined to help Indiana meet this goal by 2025.

By achieving this goal, it’s not just a win for Ivy Tech, but a win for the state of Indiana. Why? Because we will be filling middle skills jobs and helping Hoosiers find high-wage, high-demand jobs. We are truly the “gateway to the middle class.”

Last academic year, Ivy Tech awarded nearly 20,000 degrees and credentials, and we need to more than double that number by the year 2025 to help Indiana reach the Lumina Goal.

By having opportunities such as Reverse Transfer, Achieve Your Degree, 100 transfer partners and 150 programs of study, Ivy Tech is well equipped to meet the needs for post-secondary education. And, it is the largest singly accredited statewide community college system in the nation.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education recently reported for the 2015 graduating class that nearly 9,000 high school seniors chose Ivy Tech Community College, more than double the second choice institution of Indiana public colleges.

We want to continue to partner with our four-year institutions, employers and high schools, to ensure we are educating our workforce and preparing them for high-demand, high-wage jobs. Talk to your families, students, counselors, and even legislators, about the benefits of community college.

Ivy Tech quick facts

Ivy Tech Community College facts:

Nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system

Serves nearly 170,000 students annually

32 degree granting locations in Indiana

Annual tuition of $4,100 ($135/credit hour)

More than 1,000 courses offered online

150 programs of study

More than 100 transfer partnerships, both in- and out-of-state

Number 1 choice for high school and adult students

Open enrollment, free application

Sue Ellspermann is the president of Ivy Tech Community College. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.