Frequently Answered Questions

You hear a lot about community college these days. Almost everyone has an opinion about it. The problem is, too many of those opinions are based on information that’s either out-of-date or just plain wrong. It’s time for Ivy Tech to set the record straight.

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So. What is a community college?

It’s the most common type of two-year college. Most community colleges offer a wide range of education programs, and offer their students associate degrees and certificates. A lot of community college students use their training to head into the workforce as soon as possible, filling some of their community’s most in-demand, high-paying jobs. Other students attend community college, then further their education by transferring their credits on to a four-year college or university.

The first community college in the United States was started in Joliet, Illinois in 1901. Since then, community colleges have become a valuable resource for millions of students each year—offering a smart, cost-effective way to get the opportunities created by higher education.

In most states, there are multiple community colleges (California, for instance, has over 100!). In Indiana, there’s only one: Ivy Tech.

What kind of people go to a community college?

All kinds. Some are right out of high school, trying to improve their marketability as fast as they can. Other high school grads start here, then transfer to a four-year school, where they can pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Some adult students go to community college so they can advance in their careers. Others are getting ready to jump into a new field. Some are students at four-year colleges, taking courses on their summer breaks. And some are taking classes just for the sake of learning.

Why would I want to attend a community college?

There’s a long, long list of reasons.

Cost savings is the one you probably know about already. Ivy Tech Community College offers the most affordable tuition in the state. You can go to school here for less than half the cost of what you’d pay most other places.

Because we have 32 Indiana campuses, and offer classes in more than 75 communities, adult students enjoy a shorter commute—and younger students may be able to live at home while they go to school, saving the cost of room and board.

At a time when four-year college graduates are struggling with debts that will take them decades to pay off, it makes a ton of sense to save money by attending community college—whether you want a career as soon as possible, or you want to get a smarter start on your bachelor’s degree.

What makes your tuition so low?

We can’t speak for every community college. But at Ivy Tech, there are several reasons why your tuition cost would be about half the cost of anybody else’s. One is that the state helps to support us, because we train so much of its workforce. A lot of big companies also donate to us, in exchange for us supplying them with skilled workers. Our costs stay low, and our grads get jobs. Everybody wins.

How big is Ivy Tech, exactly?

Because more people these days want higher education with lower loan debt, we’ve become Indiana’s largest institution of higher learning—enrolling more than 170,000 students per year.

What kind of training facilities does Ivy Tech have?

Honestly, it depends on the program and campus. But the answer typically ranges from “great” to “incredible.” Companies who depend on us to train their workers often donate high-tech equipment, giving students hands-on experience in real-world scenarios, long before they graduate.

Can you get a good job with an Ivy Tech education?

According to our hundreds of thousands of employed alumni, yes. Seriously, there’s no better spokesperson for Ivy Tech than someone who’s gone here. And if you don’t think you know an alumnus, we’d be happy to introduce you to a few. Check out some of those stories at IvyTech.edu/idefinesuccess.

I have the grades to get into just about any university I want. So why would I go to community college?

The main reason? Value. You’ve probably heard the statistics about the huge loan debts that come with four years of college. Because Ivy Tech’s tuition is the lowest in the state, it’s a smart financial move to take classes with us for a couple of years, then transfer those credits to whatever four-year school you’re thinking about attending now.

And it’s not like you’re getting a second-rate education. The coursework in a class here is the same as the corresponding coursework at a four-year school. Our professors are just as qualified—and in many cases, more experienced. And our small class sizes (averaging 22 people) mean you’ll get more personal attention than someone sitting in a giant lecture hall.

Yes, you’ll probably keep living at home for a couple of years. But that’s not a bad thing. You’ll save the money you’d spend on housing elsewhere, and you could potentially work at the same time as you attend school—paying as you go.

Once you transfer, you’ll be able to further pursue your educational goal, while paying up to $10,000 less for your bachelor’s degree.

Decades from now, when your other friends are still struggling to pay off their college’s loan debts, you’ll look back on Ivy Tech as the smartest decision you ever made.

I saw something on the news about Ivy Tech students not graduating. What’s up with that?

Lots of people graduate from Ivy Tech. In May 2016, nearly 19,371 credentials were awarded at Ivy Tech commencement ceremonies across Indiana. That’s an increase of 60 percent over the last five years.

That being said, graduation isn’t always the end goal for those who attend Ivy Tech. Many take classes here, then transfer their credits to four-year schools to pursue bachelor’s degrees. Even though those students didn’t technically graduate from Ivy Tech, we helped them toward their goals.

Likewise, some of our students are recruited by employers before they complete work on their degrees. Naturally, we’d prefer that they stick it out and finish here—but sometimes, the need for a paycheck trumps everything. We understand that, but we advise all of our students to get their certificate or degree. Jobs come and go, but graduation gives you a credential you’ll have forever.

I’m ready to take the next step. How do I enroll?

Well, there are a few steps you’ll need to take first. First, you’ll need to complete an application for admission at IvyTech.edu/ApplyNow. After that, you’ll need to attend New Student Orientation. Next, you’ll need to complete an assessment. And finally, you’ll meet with an advisor to identify your goals and register for classes.

Honestly, I was never that great of a student. How am I going to make it through college?

Don’t worry. For one thing, our small class sizes mean you’ll get more personal attention from instructors. For another thing, those instructors typically have a lot of experience with the curriculum they’re teaching, and they’re sincerely interested in helping you learn.

You’ll have an advisor to help you get started. And if you start to feel overwhelmed, we offer tutoring and other resources.

We want to help you succeed. Partly because that’s our mission, partly because it will strengthen our shared community, and partly because your success is a good advertisement for us. When you get a good job, it proves to others that we’re a smart option.

I’m the first person in my family to attend college. Am I really going to be able to do this?

Absolutely. And it might help you to know that you’re not alone. Because we’re always working to make higher education more accessible for more people, many of the students at our campuses are the first in their families to pursue higher education. We know that being the first isn’t always easy. We have people on staff who you can talk to about this, and who will support you to the finish.

Besides affordability, why should I go to community college?

To start with, Ivy Tech Community College offers two paths for students to follow. Those who want a good career as soon as possible get an associate degree or certificate, and can enter the workforce in two years or less. Others come here for two years, and then transfer their credits to a four-year institution—earning their bachelor’s degree while saving upward of $10,000.

If you’re not sure what career field you want to pursue, our advisors can point you toward one of more than 150 academic programs. And our low tuition costs make academic experimentation less financially risky than it would be elsewhere.

In state-of-the-art labs, classes are taught by instructors who work in the field (and not teaching assistants). Students gain real, hands-on experience that drastically increases their earning potential after graduation.

Another reason to attend: our low student-teacher ratio. We have an average class size of 22, so you can get more one-on-one time with instructors than you would in some giant lecture hall.

For those with work and parenting conflicts, we offer flexible scheduling. Because we offer classes at many campus locations, students don’t have far to travel. And thanks to our many online courses, some students barely have to commute at all.

I always thought Ivy Tech Community College was a technical school. You’re not?

That’s how we started out, 50-some years ago. And we’re still training students in automotive technology, HVAC, welding, and many other tech fields. But after half a century, we now offer more than 150 academic programs, in the divisions of Health, Technology, and Business and Public Services. So while you’ll see in-demand programs in technical fields, you’ll also find programs in fields like surgical technology, cyber security, nanotechnology, and aviation technology. We also offer a University/Transfer division, for students who want to take classes here, then transfer their credits on to four-year schools.

How good are Ivy Tech Community College’s instructors?

We have some of the best, most dedicated, and thoroughly credentialed instructors around. Most of them have extensive, real-life experience, and work in the occupations their students are preparing to enter.

Is it easy to get good grades at Ivy Tech?

That all depends on you. We offer the same level of education here that you would get at any other college—and the same general curriculum. An English 101 or geometry course here is the same as it would be at other public in-state colleges and universities. It’s just as tough, and takes just as much effort. But the bottom line is this: if you put the work in, you’ll get the rewards out.

I have kids, and I’m not sure how I can be a parent and a student at the same time. Help?

We’ll do everything we can to make this easier for you. We offer flexible class times that may be able to work around your schedule. We also offer more than 1,000 online courses statewide, that let you take classes at your own convenience and pace.

Would a four-year school accept transfer credits from Ivy Tech?

They would, and they do. We have transfer agreements with virtually every other institution of higher learning in Indiana—including Indiana University, Purdue University, IUPUI, Ball State University, Indiana State University, the University of Southern Indiana, the University of Indianapolis, the University of Evansville, Hanover College, Valparaiso University—the list goes on and on. Credits also transfer to universities outside Indiana. In the academic year 2014-15, a total of 28,882 Ivy Tech students transferred credits (with 25,245 students transferring courses, and another 3,637 transferring credentials and degrees).

Ivy Tech’s “single articulation pathways” let you smoothly transfer your associate degree credits to a four-year school as a junior.

You can also enroll directly into our Transfer General Education Core certificate program, or a transfer-oriented associate degree program.

I want to go to college, but the whole financial aid process confuses me. Can you help me through it?

Absolutely. You can get help on campus from our Express Enrollment Center. We also have many useful resources—online and offline—that will walk you through the process of completing a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Check out IvyTech.edu/financial-aid for more information.

I’d like to learn more, but I don’t want to commit myself. What’s my next step?

You can request information from us by filling out an online form. You can also chat online at IvyTech.edu/Chat. Or you can phone us at 888-IVY-LINE. If you decide we look like a good option, you can apply.

The word “assessment” scares me. Should it?

Not at all. It’s just a simple evaluation that we ask all of our students to go through. We need to place you at the appropriate level, so you don’t get in over your head. In the end, it’s a useful tool that will help you reach your goals at your own pace. Our many options for assessment include SAT/ACT scores, GPA, previous college credit, and our Accuplacer tool. And if you want to brush up on your skills, you can make use of our Ivy Prep resource and other online assets.

I’m sick of my job, but I’m not sure what else I can do. Do you have a test or something, that could tell me what else I might be good at?

It just so happens we do. Once you’ve enrolled, we’ll help you complete an Indiana Career Explorer Assessment, that will suggest ways in which your skills, interests, values and personality type could translate into a major—and ultimately, a new career.

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