SL campus draws from 45 miles away
Iowa Central Community College's Storm Lake Campus reported another increase in enrollment for the fall 2004 semester. The college has grown from 2,100 students to more than 5,000 in just eight years.
Once ranked last in market penetration among Iowa community colleges, it is now second. And It is ranked 43rd in the nation among the fastest-growing U.S. community colleges.
Credit hours taken by students at the ICCC Storm Lake Campus totaled 3,042, up slightly from last fall. Total enrollment numbers include full-time, part-time, traditional and non- traditional students.
Fall semester credit enrollment at all three Iowa Central campus sites is up. Students are enrolled in a record 50,718 credit hours of classes this fall compared to 50,091 in the fall of 2003.
"We look at credit hours because that's paid tuition," states Dan Anderson, local Iowa Central Storm Lake Center director.
Programs demonstrating the most growth this year are in the health science and vocational technical areas. The nursing program at ICCC Storm Lake continues to thrive in a time where there is a growing shortage of trained professionals.
In Storm Lake, the program was full to capacity as the Iowa Central fall classes began.
Students routinely come from 35-45 miles away, and are in demand at graduation to fill vacancies in hospitals and long-term health care facilities in a number of surrounding counties.
Other popular offerings at Iowa Central in Storm Lake include Elementary Education, Human Services, Criminal Justice, Accounting, Secondary Education, Mechanics, Business Marketing & Management, Nurse Aid, and Computer Technology.
The Storm Lake Center also served in fiscal year 2003/2004 over 350 adult English as a Second Language students, 46 area high school students in secondary credit course through the Student Success Center, over 60 GED students and over 1,000 area residents in adult and community education short courses and workshops.
College officials attribute the increase overall to the "outstanding faculty and staff," relationships with area high schools and the positive experiences shared through word-of- mouth by current and former students.
It costs less than most colleges, and I don't have to drive very far," Jeremy Ober, a freshman majoring in Music, said explaining why he chose Iowa Central.
Ryan Rodgers, a sophomore at Iowa Central says, "The number of students shows the quality of education and programs available at Iowa Central."
Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Development Tom Beneke thinks the College's overall atmosphere teamed with the faculty and staff's willingness to recruit and work with students plays a key roll in the enrollment numbers.
The college's strong athletic, music and theatre departments also play a part in drawing a number of students from the state and abroad.
All of the college's efforts toward recruiting and retention have paid off. Out of 15 Iowa community colleges, Iowa Central ranked second in the percentage of population served in a specific service area.
Growth is also evident on the main campus in Fort Dodge, according to President Dr. Bob Paxton.
Parking lots and student apartments are full, even as the college builds new ones to keep up with demand.
In the 1994-95 school year, Paxton said 80 students lived on campus. Today, there are more than 600.
Growth continues to occur in spite of declining population in high schools throughout the college's nine-county area - where the majority of its students come from.
"People are doing something right," Paxton said.
Prospective students hear about the quality of a collegiate experience long before stepping onto the campus, he explained.
Juniors and seniors who are introduced to the college atmosphere through its early bird programs often decide to continue their education at Iowa Central. Paxton said schools are doing a better job of helping students decide on a career path, and many are choosing Iowa Central's vocational technical programs to start their careers.
Those relationships with the high schools, as well as with local business and industry, have had a "direct impact" on enrollment, he said.
Also, the college's cost per full time equivalent student is among the lowest in the state for community colleges, Paxton added.
"If you have outstanding people leading programs, that carries through when students come on campus," Beneke said.
Storm Lake and Webster City serve as satellites to the Fort Dodge campus.