Students’ thrive during challenging times
FREEPORT — April is Community College Month and Highland has a lot to celebrate. Like many community colleges across the nation, Highland Community College faced the COVID-19 pandemic head-on by continuing to help students succeed through safe, flexible learning options. The pandemic offered some students to take a closer look at community college education because they would be closer to home, have the same quality instruction, and pay less tuition compared to a university.
Jim Reed, Executive Director of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA), credits the original purpose of the community college which allowed easy adaptation during the pandemic.
“Community colleges were designed for flexibility that appeals to first-generation students, low-income students, and working adults all who have to balance work, education and life obligations. So, it is not surprising that students have given their community colleges high marks for helping them adapt during the pandemic. Additionally, community colleges have demonstrated their ability to adapt and innovate while being responsive to the emerging needs of society during this crisis,” said Reed.
Community colleges, like Highland, are a great place of discovery for students to help shape, pursue, and realize their dreams as they aspire to higher learning.
“Today, about half of all bachelor’s degree earners began their education at a community college. This pandemic will shine a bright light on the contribution of these institutions to the entire educational ecosystem,” said Reed.
Recent studies indicate that community college students who transfer to four-year schools are more likely to graduate than students who enrolled directly out of high school. According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), 46 percent of all undergraduates in the U.S. are community college students.
“Community Colleges provide a high-quality foundation of education for students whether their goal is to transfer to a four-year institution or enter the workforce,” said Chris Kuberski, President of Highland Community College. “Students have an opportunity to interact directly with faculty, staff, and administration which increases student engagement and, ultimately, student success.”
A community college education offers financial aid options, school and life balance, STEM education, transfer agreements, and job placement into the trades or health care. Most students of community colleges prefer studying at lower prices. Community college students tend to save between $5,000-20,000 every year compared to university students.
“Community colleges are a beacon of hope for individuals who wish to improve their skills, advance their learning, and improve their situation. Not only do they offer quality courses and programs at an affordable cost, they offer a supportive, caring environment where students can thrive,” said Kuberski.
Community college students have an equal opportunity to follow their science, athletic, music, art, or performance dreams by joining a team or club. The Women in Science Club hosts Highland alumni speakers to share their success stories which inspire current students to reach their goals.
“The best opportunity for students to obtain a valuable college education and perhaps explore new career paths, while facing the uncertainty of an on-campus experience can be found right in their neighborhoods,” said Reed.
Highland is ready for the summer and fall semesters. To get registered or schedule a campus tour, call 815-599-3414 or visit highland.edu/admissions/new-students.