The College of Choice: Northeast Iowa Community College

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NICC_50

The 50th year of Northeast Iowa Community College’s (NICC) service to students and partners in education, business and industry, philanthropy and governmental entities offers the College an historic opportunity to reflect on its past, the present and the future needs of every community member in its more than 5,000 square-mile district.

Secretarial students_1967

Secretarial students (1967)

Since the College’s founding in 1966, more than 24,000 students have graduated from NICC, continued their education and established local careers. Today, 90 percent of our graduates live in northeast Iowa and contribute to the local economy and community vitality through their professional work, leadership and service to others.

The NICC district has changed tremendously in the past five decades. Communities are now more diverse in regard to their national origin and ethnicity; industries in northeast Iowa have vastly different training needs now than in 1966; and the College is continually adapting its academic programs and training options to meet our region’s evolving needs.

06_peosta tree plantingTechnological advancements and how people of all ages and backgrounds learn are re-focusing how community college educators teach. As teachers in 2016 and into the future, what are strategies we need to use that teach students who are immersed in digital technology? Numerous national studies indicate that computers, smart phones and video games are competing for our students’ attention and changing the dynamics of the typical college classroom.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer for each student’s or organization’s education and training needs, NICC is clearly the college of choice for thousands of students each year. The College’s engagement with each individual learner in the classroom, lab and even after graduation makes an impact on their future success.

Engagement and customized interaction between students and faculty contribute to student success at NICC and influence future career satisfaction, according to a 2014 Gallup-Purdue University study.

Masonry Construction students_1980

Masonry Construction students (1980)

The study found that, “If graduates recalled having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams, their odds of being engaged at work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in all aspects of their well-being,” the researchers concluded. This particular study examined well-being as satisfaction in the areas of purpose, financial and social standing, connection to community and physical health.

Engagement between NICC faculty and students helps to make stronger connections, develops communication skills and contributes to a sense of belonging for students of all ages, according to Nathan Quarderer, science and math instructor at NICC, whose instructional approach discourages passivity and encourages student-led inquiry.

NICC_signs“I try to limit the amount of time I spend standing in front of my students as the purveyor of information. Rather, I encourage students to work together and shape the direction that a lesson moves,” Quarderer explains. “I find that if I can get out of their way, they’ll usually end up where I’d like them to, without having to be given a road map to success. This builds critical thinking skills and, later in life, engagement in their careers.”

As your community’s college, NICC knows that 2016 is an opportunity to celebrate 50 years of history and look toward the future as the college of choice in an ever-changing and challenging world.

Takeaways

Today, 90 percent of our graduates live in northeast Iowa and contribute to our local economy and community vitality through their professional work, leadership and service to others.

Technological advancements and how people of all ages and backgrounds learn are re-focusing how community college educators teach.

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