Ivy Tech Community College Northeast’s student body represents a tapestry of diverse individuals. Regardless of their age, race, or socioeconomic differences, each has a desire for a better future. And such a journey often begins with attending college.
Brock McPeek, Andrew Smittie, and Joe Wood did just that at Ivy Tech Northeast. And while their desires were similar, the roads they chose to attain their goals could not have been more different.
Brock took a single Ivy Tech Northeast industrial maintenance technician class two years ago at Bellmont High School in Decatur, where he also earned a critical industry certification. Less than three months later, he became an assistant maintenance supervisor at Key Fasteners in Berne. Today, Brock is on his way to becoming Key Fasteners’ maintenance supervisor.
Andrew spent more than 10 years with the Allen County Sheriff’s Department when he decided to chase his dream of owning his own company. Engaged to be married, a father and working full time as a security officer at Lutheran Hospital, Andrew needed flexible class schedules and a campus close to home, where he would not go in debt before getting his business off the ground. He is currently enrolled at Ivy Tech Northeast, pursuing his dream to grow his environmental startup company, Green E-Waste Miracles. Andrew recently became a finalist in the college’s New Venture Competition and will compete with two other students in September for $35,000 in startup capital.
Joe’s first attempt at college immediately following high school was met with disappointment. He lacked motivation, failed his classes and dropped out. Joe re-enrolled at Ivy Tech Northeast following a few years of introspection. This time he was committed to finishing his associate degree. While juggling a part-time campus job, an internship and the presidency of campus student organization, Joe managed to graduate magna cum laude in May with a visual communications degree.
Ivy Tech’s accrediting body, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, largely determines student success based on degree completion rates. Those rates fall into two categories: on-time and extended-time.
In order for an Ivy Tech student to be considered an on-time success by the commission, students must be attending college for the first time, attend the same regional campus on a full-time basis and graduate with their chosen degree within two years. Alternatively, extended-time completion represents first-time, full-time students who graduate within six years, preferably at the same campus and degree level.
Ivy Tech Northeast has increased its student completion rates based on the commission’s on-time and extended-time metrics, with a 3.5 percent gain and a 6.4 percent gain in both categories over a five-year period, respectively. Today, more than 42 percent of our first-time students either transfer or graduate within six years.
Despite the achievements of students like Brock, Andrew and Joe, their success does not count when measured by the commission. In fact, when the commission measures on-time rates, it is measuring a population that represents less than 7 percent of our student demographic.
Our students’ success is dependent upon their ability to choose an academic pace that does not interfere with the demands of their adult responsibilities of parenting and working. Their length of time at Ivy Tech continues to remain an individual determination. While we would like for all of our students to graduate within a two-year timeframe, it is more important that we prioritize their needs as students before our desires as a higher education institution.
Brock, Andrew, and Joe, like many of their college peers, are a success. They have used their college experience to accomplish their personal goals and are seeking opportunities to transform their lives, strengthen our community and grow our regional economy.
Jerrilee K. Mosier, Ed.D., is the chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College Northeast and has been a northeast Indiana citizen since 2010.