Two Years is as Valuable as Four

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Four-year colleges and universities draw tens of thousands of applicants each year from across the country. However, what these schools can rarely promise is an individualized learning experience for each student, an important factor for new undergraduates.

Northeast Iowa Community College cultivates the homegrown talent and works with students individually to achieve their long-term academic and career goals.

Many of the College’s students, like Connor Bauer, are among the state’s best and brightest. As a pre-med student at the University of Iowa, Bauer faced 12 additional years of school when he decided to refocus his healthcare career goals. Last fall, he transferred to NICC to enroll in the Nursing Concurrent Enrollment Partnership program, an agreement between the College and Upper Iowa University that will allow him to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“When I started my junior year at Iowa, I was finally taking courses related to my biology major, but I didn’t want to be a surgeon anymore,” Bauer explained. Family commitments in northeast Iowa and the opportunity to become a Registered Nurse in two years influenced his decision to transfer to NICC.

On campus and in the classroom, he noticed a dramatic difference at the College in contrast to his University experience.

“The teachers here are amazing and know my name. They are all nurses, have nursing experience and master’s degrees. That’s a key difference from what many students may encounter at a four-year school. NICC faculty know how to teach and also have years of knowledge and training in the profession. NICC instructors can see that a student is struggling and pull them aside to help. At the University, I was terrified to go talk to my professors one-on-one during the semester,” he expressed.

Many students attend larger schools right after graduation from high school and then decide they want to do something different as a career. Josh Pasker originally enrolled in the four-year accounting program at University of Northern Iowa.

“Honestly, when I had graduated from high school, a two-year degree never appealed to me. I was thinking, ‘go big or go home,’” Pasker said. “After one year I realized that I hated business courses! Looking back, I just needed to think a little harder about what I wanted to do in my life. I enjoy doing hands-on work as a career.”

Pasker completed the Engineering Technology program at the College and found a high-paying local career as a mechanical designer several weeks before graduation. He works for Lancaster Machine and Tool Inc. and loves the opportunity to design and build products in an environment where every day is different (see profile).

The College’s emphasis on career planning, personalized training and programs that are relevant to the local job market factor into students’ decisions to enroll.

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