Committed to solutions

In Indiana, only 34.4 percent of the state’s 3.4 million working-age adults (ages 25 to 64) hold a postsecondary credential or degree, according to 2010 Census data. There are only nine states with lower college attainment than Indiana.

Employers in Indiana are having difficulty finding employees with both the technical and the soft skills necessary to do their work effectively. The low educational attainment in Indiana has led to this dire situation.

Ivy Tech Community College is perfectly positioned to help solve this problem by offering a high-quality education at an affordable cost. Our faculty hold doctorates and other terminal degrees from highly accredited universities, such as Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Indiana University, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Purdue University, Ball State University, Xavier University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They have authored books, have published papers in peer-reviewed journals, have presented at national and international conferences, hold numerous awards and are outstanding instructors in the classroom.

While receiving excellent instruction from our highly qualified faculty, students attending Ivy Tech pay approximately $4,000 for two semesters at 15 credit hours per semester. The comparable cost of tuition and fees, alone, for two semesters at a state university is $10,000. If students pay for room and board at a state university, which most do, this doubles the cost, bringing the total to $20,000 or more – five times the cost of earning those same 30 credits at Ivy Tech.

In addition, our dual credit program allows high school students to take college-level courses at their high school, earning high school and college credit at the same time. Since the Ivy Tech courses are tuition-free when taught as part of this program, the savings to participating students is significant, and, at the same time, students get a jump-start on their college careers.

Senate Enrolled Act 182, passed in 2012, creates the statewide General Education Transfer Core (TGEC), which mandates that a full 30 credit-hour package transfers into every public, four-year university in Indiana. So the transfer of the first year of college to a state university saves students thousands of dollars.

The first two of the Hoosier Top 50 jobs are those of registered nurse and K-12 teacher. Students can earn an associate degree in both of these disciplines at Ivy Tech and then transfer credits to a four-year university to work toward a bachelor’s degree. Transfer agreements between Ivy Tech and four-year universities, such as Indiana University, Purdue University, IUPUI, University of Southern Indiana, Valparaiso University, Western Governors University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, are in place, and students are taking advantage of it.

Ivy Tech leaders are meeting individually with high school superintendents, principals, teachers, and employers to determine how we can help. The discussion about educational attainment, workforce needs, and the intersection with community colleges has never been greater.

We believe in the power of convening groups of people who think collaboratively and are dedicated to working toward solutions. By working together, we will achieve the goal of strengthening the workforce through education and improving individuals’ lives and the communities in which they live.

Chris Lowery is chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Columbus/Southeast. Send comments to johannesen@therepublic.com.