Continued growth in degree programs and enrollment are on the horizon at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus.

Enrollment for the spring semester is on track to increase 2 percent from a year earlier, said Steven Combs, chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College.

The campus has been enrolling new and current students and signing them up for classes during express enrollment this week, which continues today.

Degree programs such as nursing and advanced automation and robotics technology offered at the Columbus campus remain among the most popular, Combs said. The college is the only Ivy Tech location south of Indianapolis that offers a degree in agriculture, also making that program attractive, he said.

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Ivy Tech’s nursing program also remains in demand for students seeking degrees, with heavy competition for available slots, Combs said.

Ariel Goodpaster, 26, a native of Seymour, is hoping to enter the nursing field and was among the individuals who signed up for classes Wednesday for the new semester, which begins Jan. 16. Goodpaster works at a nursing home and had previously taken college classes five years ago before dropping out, she said.

She is looking for a fresh start and considers the Columbus campus a convenience next step in her career path.

“I’ve wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember,” Goodpaster said.

Greensburg resident Jordan Noah also used express enrollment to sign up for the spring semester. Noah, who is working toward an associate degree in criminal justice at Ivy Tech, plans to graduate this summer and hopes to become a police officer.

Noah said he enjoys the atmosphere on the Columbus campus and how professors are willing to work with Ivy Tech students.

“They will really help you out and guide you in the way you would like,” Noah said.

On the horizon

Combs said he anticipates even higher enrollment growth at the Columbus campus this fall.

About 70 percent of the college’s courses will be eight weeks long starting in fall compared to the standard 16-week programs currently offered. The same number of course hours are packed into a more condensed class schedule.

“We’re hoping that shorter time frame will make it more attractive for workers,” Combs said. “Columbus is going to lead that charge.”

The change, which will also be offered during summer terms offered by Ivy Tech, is also meant to offer more flexibility for the college’s 5,731 students, Combs said.

“We hope that’s exciting for people,” he said. “As an educational institution, we’ve been doing the same thing for years.”

Combs said the innovative approach should boost Ivy Tech enrollment.

Statewide, Ivy Tech works to align its programs at 19 campuses to the needs of the local workforce, spokeswoman Kelsey Batten said.

However, she said in-demand Ivy Tech programs statewide include advanced manufacturing and all areas of healthcare and information technology.

Opportunities for adults

While Ivy Tech has a mixture of traditional students, those coming right out of high school, and non-traditional students who enroll in classes as adults, Combs said the college will continue to partner with local businesses in an effort to help workers earn a degree as well. The partnership, known as Achieve Your Degree, allows workers to return to school with tuition paid by their employers.

Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing in Columbus and Honda Manufacturing of Indiana in Greensburg are among companies participating in the program. A tuition bill from Ivy Tech is sent to the respective companies if an individual meets all the requirements, Combs said.

The college also hopes to venture further into the healthcare field by partnering with Columbus Regional Health and other organizations, Combs said.

“We hope to get more of the non-traditional students coming back,” Combs said.

Also on the horizon at the Ivy Tech campus this fall is an accelerated cyber academy program offered at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Jennings County. The program, which will initially be offered to 40 Indiana National Guard members, will involve learning about operations and allowing individuals to work with local law enforcement and Homeland Security.

“It will be like none other in the nation,” Combs said.

Express enrollment schedule

Express enrollment at Ivy Tech Community College concludes today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the campus, 4475 Central Ave.

More information: Visit ivytech.edu/enrollmentday/

By the numbers

5,731: Total enrollment for 2017-18 school year at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus

900: Number of degrees awarded locally in most recent academic year

45: Number of campus and site locations across Indiana

Source: Ivy Tech Community College

Popular programs at Ivy Tech's Columbus campus

Some of the most in-demand programs at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus campus include:

  • Business administration
  • Industrial technology
  • Advanced automation and robotics technology
  • Mechanical engineering technology
  • Accounting
  • Information technology support
  • Healthcare specialist
  • Medical assisting
  • Cyber security
  • Engineering technology
  • Software development

Source: Ivy Tech Community College

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com