Indian Hills Providing Quality Education, Workforce Preparation
The cost of attending a traditional four-year college has more than doubled since the 1980s. Today, the average student amasses about $30,000 in debt to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Despite this massive investment, data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows the underemployment rate for recent college graduates is nearly 43 percent. Meanwhile, shortages of skilled workers are becoming apparent in key areas such as manufacturing, IT and healthcare.
This stark reality is contributing to a rise in community college enrollment. In addition to affordable tuition, community colleges have advantages such as smaller class sizes and specialized degrees, certificates and diplomas in high-demand fields.
Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa is rated one of the top 500 community colleges in the nation. It has a 17:1 student faculty ratio and an impressive 93 percent job placement rate across its advanced technology programs.
Jill Budde serves as VP of Learning & Engagement at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. She points out that Indian Hills helps serve as a catalyst for both education and community development.
The college works directly with business and industry to learn about in-demand jobs and ensure its programs can channel students directly into the workforce. “We’re a real connector in the community. We work with economic development professionals, business and industry professionals and those interested in growing the community,” says Budde.
Indian Hills boasts a $368.7 million economic impact on the region, in terms of total income added. The college’s Career & Technical Education division has more than 70 academic programs, varying from certificates to one or two-year programs.
Each program has a business and industry advisory committee that provides regular input to ensure Indian Hills’ offerings are relevant to the area’s workforce needs. “They are true partners in the way they help shape our programs,” says Budde.
Concurrent credit options enable students to graduate with their high school and Indian Hills diplomas at the same time in high-demand programs like welding. Noncredit courses are also available. Such career workforce education courses offer flexibility in terms of being able to quickly provide training needs for area businesses.
“We believe in Southeast Iowa in growing our own,” says Budde. “If people want to stay in our area, we’re providing opportunities so they can do that.”
Budde notes that students obtain a well-rounded education at Indian Hills. With an associate degree, they can easily transfer to a traditional university. The hope is that they consider returning to the area once their education is complete.
“We need doctors, dentists and lawyers in our community too. They can start here and come back,” she says. “We believe Indian Hills is a good place to start. It’s close to home; it helps students because it’s a cost-effective option. It also meets the needs of our community in terms of preparing the future workforce.”
Ottumwa, IA 52501