A Place for All Ages: Traditional and Nontraditional Students at NICC

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Come one, come all. Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) welcomes all community members, whether they are high school students who want to earn college credit, recent high school graduates looking to get ahead with a competitive degree while saving money, or adult learners who have not set foot in a classroom in 20 years. For career preparation and a great first college, NICC may be the answer for your educational and career goals.

Traditional students in the community college setting are defined as 18-24 years of age, and students over 24 are officially termed as nontraditional. Beyond that narrow definition, there is nothing commonplace about the successful NICC student and graduate of any age. NICC students enroll at the college because, regardless of their age, they have clear future goals. Students want to transfer their credits to a four-year school; enroll and become nurses, medical assistants and respiratory therapists; develop their computer science and programming skills; or pursue any number of career-oriented programs that NICC offers.

High school students comprise a large portion of the overall enrollment picture at NICC. For families of high school students throughout the College’s eight-county service area, the ability to take college courses through NICC saves thousands of dollars in tuition annually. As of this semester, 40% of all students at the College are current high school students enrolled in credit courses and attending classes on an NICC campus or center, online or at their own high schools.

“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige, 1906 – 1982 Major League Baseball pitcher (At the age of 60, Paige took the mound for the last time, throwing three shutout innings for the Kansas City Athletics.)

Students who take college-level courses at NICC also derive the added benefit of learning in an accredited program. Last year, the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) gave full accreditation to these concurrent enrollment agreements between high schools and NICC. This accreditation ensures that college courses offered in high school settings are of the same quality and rigor as courses offered at an NICC campus, center or online.

The nontraditional student may be statistically defined by his or her age, but an individual’s career path and reason for enrolling at NICC often proves to be the more defining characteristic. Women who enroll in programs to prepare for careers that are more commonly held by men, for example, may also be termed nontraditional.

Jenny Smith, an NICC alumna from Dorchester, graduated from several programs in 2012. She earned a diploma in the NICC Commercial and Residential Electrician program and Associate of Applied Science degrees in Industrial Electrician and Wind Turbine Repair Technician. She now works full-time for Voltmer Electric in Decorah as an apprentice electrician and is enjoying every minute of it.

“I am currently pursuing an apprenticeship and gaining work experience through my employer in preparation for the Journeyman’s Exam in two years’ time. At Voltmer Electric, I work in the commercial and residential field. I helped to remodel an eight story building by running wire, terminating devices, installing light fixtures and troubleshooting,” said Smith. “I use everything that I’ve learned at NICC at my job.”

There is nothing really “traditional,” “nontraditional” or “ordinary” about students at NICC. The pathways to an NICC location and the rigorous instruction students can expect prepare everyone of all ages for their four-year transfer plans to colleges and universities or to begin the professional career of their dreams! For more information on over 75 programs, visit www.nicc.edu/collegeprograms.

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