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April is Community College Month

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that not all college experiences are created equal. The past 12 months have brought this into sharper focus than ever before. While many colleges and universities grappled with their approach to the pandemic, my colleagues at Iowa Valley did what we do best – we turned on a dime and implemented plans to keep our doors open. Our students weren’t paying tuition and fees to take classes from their dorm rooms; they were able to attend class in person, with safety measures in place. We offered online classes, and many students took part in our hybrid model. But, we knew that our students would thrive best if they had choices to meet their own personal situation.

This is noteworthy, but not uncommon. Community colleges have always displayed a certain flexibility and responsiveness. We are able to respond to community and workforce challenges quickly and efficiently. Whether the community needs a spot for COVID testing and mask distribution, or if the local workforce needs jobs training programs, my colleagues are quick to respond.

Our goal is to provide a world-class education that is accessible and attainable by all students. We serve the most demographically and socioeconomically diverse students in our state. We address the demand for skilled labor with focused degree programs and short-term career training. Our students may enter the workforce or choose to continue their education after leaving our colleges – and we are confident they will be successful in their next steps, based on the education they receive from our instructors.

We provide an affordable education, and are the most in-demand institutions during and following times of economic recession. We provide financial aid opportunities, including the Last Dollar Scholarship, that provides financial assistance to those entering high-demand career fields. Education has been called the great equalizer – we make it accessible.

While you may have known all of these things, what you may not know is that we also offer a wonderful student-life experience, too. Students at Marshalltown and Ellsworth don’t forego the “college life” — we have campus housing that is both owned and operated by the college and robust campus activities such as athletics. There is something that appeals to almost everyone.

These are just a few of the things that make community colleges special and unique. Join me in celebrating Community College Month this April.

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Kristie Fisher is the chancellor for the

Iowa Valley Community College District.

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