Northeast Iowa Community College: Mythbusters and the Real Story

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NICC_mythbustersNortheast Iowa Community College (NICC) accepts everyone.

The College has never pretended to be an exclusive club. There is no required ACT or SAT cutoff score for acceptance. The College is affordable even for those who believe a college education is financially impossible. Students quickly learn that faculty and staff pay close attention should someone start getting lost – on campus or in a difficult class.

The people of NICC are also busy playing “mythbusters” by sharing the real success stories of students and alumni, what the College experience should deliver for everyone and the value of every student’s time and money.

Here is a short, but not exhaustive list of four common myths as they relate to a community college education:

Mythbuster #1:

A four-year college degree is required for a successful career.

The myth of the four-year degree as the best option for college-bound students still persists, even when economics and our job market suggest otherwise.

pg2-3disc golfAccording to a 2010 Harvard University Graduate School of Education study, by 2018 only 33 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require a four-year degree or more, and 57 percent of jobs will require an associate’s degree earned at a two-year community college like NICC. This employment market phenomenon has been expressed by researchers using three numbers – 1, 2, 7. For every one professional job that is acquired by earning a master’s degree or higher, there are two jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree and an estimated seven jobs in America that require employees to have earned a certificate or diploma credential.

For students and families debating between a two- and four-year college degree, the greatest influence is the return on investment of their choice.

“I enrolled in South Dakota State University’s (SDSU) four-year Dairy Production program and realized I would eventually be paying $70,000 in student loans,” explained Makaila Klejeski of Claremont, Minn. “After one semester at SDSU, I transferred to the Northeast Iowa Community College two-year Dairy Science program and will only owe $12,000. Community college graduates can also earn more money. I know someone who completed a one-year diesel mechanics program, is making $40,000 a year and he’s only 21 years old.”

Mythbuster #2:

Nothing will replace the classic model of higher education – the traditional classroom and direct instruction.

This misconception is dispelled a little more every year. Online and blended learning, “flipped” classrooms with their focus on student-led engagement and the trend toward “makerspaces” are all redefining the ways we learn.

pg2-3_MG_7730Certainly not the exclusive domain of community colleges, makerspaces for students are the norm at NICC. What is a makerspace? Commonly referred to as a hands-on learning environment, a makerspace encourages student-to-student collaboration and self-directed learning. For example, students taking agriculture courses and learning dairy herd management at Iowa’s Dairy Center are taking advantage of a cross-disciplinary makerspace. Likewise, students in the computer numerical control (CNC) open lab or those in an apprenticeship program direct their learning in this type of environment.

Mythbuster #3:

Living away from home gives me more freedom and none of my friends are going there.

This sentiment is easy to understand, yet experience teaches us differently. The perception of greater freedom, being away from mom and dad’s prying eyes, often comes at a hefty price. Students who embarked on their college journey miles away from home often report feeling disconnected, experience social withdrawal and ultimately, struggle academically. While moving away from home is exciting and fun, the experience is not for everyone or is just not at the right time.

Brad Powers, a 2013 graduate, experienced this first hand. “At Iowa State University, I didn’t like the size of the school and large classrooms. I knew after only one month that it wouldn’t be a good fit for me; I just knew it wouldn’t work out,” he recalled. Brad transferred to NICC, earned his two-year degree and recently graduated from the University of Dubuque with a bachelor’s degree in business.

“Northeast Iowa Community College was a really great starting block for me and had a smaller environment with smaller classes. After dropping out at Iowa State, I truly felt that I had failed. NICC helped me rebuild my confidence, especially the service learning trips and iMPACT, the student leadership organization on campus,” he reflected.

Mythbuster #4:

Community colleges do not offer a “real” College experience.

This is another myth busted easily by individuals who like to take charge of their free time when outside of class and library study sessions.

pg2-3nursesStudents at the College have opportunities to study abroad, participate in service learning trips and intramurals or participate in the intercollegiate athletics sports shooting team. If your objective is to build an impressive résumé, community colleges have the right ingredients. Student leadership positions, local, regional and national professional organizations and competitions, poetry slams and music performances, volunteer work, athletics and activities designed specifically for U.S. military veterans are all impressive opportunities that are not unique to four-year universities.

It’s Your Future. Be Bold. www.nicc.edu/apply.

Takeaways

By 2018 only 33 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require a four-year degree or more, and 57 percent of jobs will require an associate’s degree earned at a two-year community college like NICC.

“I know someone who completed a one-year diesel mechanics program, is making $40,000 a year and he’s only 21 years old.”

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