Students weigh higher ed options at MCC College Fair

Green Mountain-Garwin High School junior Jacob Raymond said he is looking for a college that offers classes in biochemistry and literature.

He doesn’t much care whether the school is a four-year university or community college, so long as he receives financial aid.

Raymond undertook his search Tuesday at the annual Marshalltown College Fair, held at Marshalltown Community College.

There, over 1,000 area high school and MCC students explored their options.

They could meet with 68 representatives from mostly Midwestern institutions, in addition to online schools, beauty and hair colleges and branches of the military.

Students from as far as the Grinnell-Newburg and Baxter school districts attended the fair.

University of Sioux Falls admissions representative Kari Lena said pupils are generally from the Midwest.

“We’re a private Christian school,” she said, adding that the university offers over 88 academic programs.

“The top four that we have there for enrollment would be education, business, exercise science and nursing,” Lena said.

She noted many students transfer into the university from community colleges, and the school offers scholarships for them.

The cost of higher education concerns Raymond.

“I think they need to figure out a way to make it cheaper so everybody can do it, because if they have a better registration level, it will be a lot better,” he said, referring to both college application and tuition costs.

Raymond thinks schools could turn a better profit if tuition was cut, so more people could afford to attend.

For students at the fair who were not considering a four-year college or university, representatives shared alternative programs.

Staff Sgt. Anna Rietveld, of the Iowa Air National Guard, said graduates can benefit from opportunities offered by military service.

Recruits can receive college credit for the 8 1/2 weeks of basic training they undergo, along with technical school offered through the Air Force’s online community college.

“If they’re not ready to go to school, they can come and get experience through our technical programs while they get paid,” Rietveld said.

Students may transfer credits earned through cyberspace, intelligence and medicine programs, she noted.

“I transfered, I think, 24 of my own credits from the Community College of the Air Force to my dental assisting degree,” Rietveld said. “So instead of having to do two years in dental assisting, I only had to do one year.”

The Air Force also provides other school benefits, she said. In fact, it will pay full tuition for students who attend an Iowa institution of higher education.

The Marshalltown College Fair was hosted by the Iowa Association for College Admission Counseling.

In the spring, MCC is to host a career fair, said student success specialist, Aaron Freland.

Although Raymond is in the midst of college planning, he said he is tired of people asking him about his future or what he wants to do in life.

“Oh, not this question again,” he quipped.