From “Can’t” to “Can”: Community Colleges Turn Dreams Into Reality

By Dr. Sue Ellspermann, President, Ivy Tech Community College

I hear the word “can’t” quite a bit:

  • “Everyone talks about getting a good job, but my family can’t afford to send me to college.”
  • “I’m willing to work, but I can’t make ends meet on my income.”
  • “I have a family and I can’t find the time, freedom, or money or to go to college. I’m stuck.”
  • “Even if I got a credential, I can’t imagine that anyone would hire me into one of those high-wage jobs. The system is rigged.”

You may hear some of the same things. You may even say them yourself. But this April, as we celebrate National Community College Month, we at Ivy Tech Community College are focused on helping people understand that they can get an affordable education, succeed in college, make it work even with a job and a family, and find a great job after just two years. In fact, that is exactly why Ivy Tech exists—to turn “can’t” into “can”—and to transform lives in the process.

Community colleges like Ivy Tech are a proven success nationwide. More than 40 percent of all college students start at community colleges, including many who transfer their credits and complete a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution. In Indiana, this is becoming more common thanks to agreements with our university partners that make the transition incredibly easy. These universities accept nearly 100 Ivy Tech transfer courses, the “freshman year” of general education electives, and many “Transfer as a Junior” associate degrees that are perfectly matched to a bachelor’s degree. The advantage of starting at a community college like Ivy Tech is that we’re more affordable, offer small class sizes and personal attention, and have campuses close to nearly every household in the state.

We’re also unique in that we support two distinctly-different student populations:

  • Recent high school graduates, including thousands of 18-22 year olds currently enrolled at Ivy Tech. More Indiana high school graduates choose Ivy Tech than any other college in Indiana. Our tuition is a just over $4,000 a year, allowing students to complete an associate degree that transfers to any Indiana four-year university. By completing their first two years at Ivy Tech, students save anywhere from $10,000-$50,000—or more. This is an especially important consideration for students and families who want to lower their college debt—and who doesn’t?
  • Working adults, including tens of thousands of other students currently enrolled at Ivy Tech. Regardless of where you started your career, or what job you’re in now, Ivy Tech gives you the opportunity to move into high-wage fields like information technology, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. You can earn a high-demand certificate in as little as six courses, then “stack” additional credentials that prepare you for better jobs along the way. In fact, more than 100 credentials like this are available at no cost through Indiana’s Next Level Jobs. And, once you’re in a good job, your employer may even pay for you to continue skilling up for an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or beyond, with tuition reimbursement or through Ivy Tech’s Achieve Your Degree program.

So, the next time you hear yourself saying you can’t make college work or you can’t find a good job, remember that you can—at Ivy Tech Community College. The first step is visiting one of our Ivy Tech’s 40+ locations across the state, or getting started online at Millions of Americans have made the community college a success story. Now, it’s time to begin creating a success story of your own.

President Ellspermann is Ivy Tech Community College’s ninth president and oversees the largest singly accredited community college in the nation. She has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, economic and workforce development, and public service.

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

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