By Rachel Smith Wumkes
It’s a question asked of kids at every age… what do you want to be when you grow up?
When they’re little, the answer is usually something outrageous, like a professional football player, or an astronaut. As they age, however, the question seems to become increasingly difficult. You can’t just blurt out the first thing to pop into your mind. It must be given serious thought, because as much as you long for high school graduation and the chance at ‘freedom’ it is simply the first step toward the rest of your life.
And it’s a big decision.
Thankfully, when children hit the age where planning for their future education becomes a reality, there is a slew of options. Options kids have because they live in North Iowa, home of one of the top community colleges in the entire country…. NIACC.
North Iowa Area Community College began in 1918 as the Mason City Junior college. To say they’ve come a long way in the last 100 years would be an understatement. Today, the college sits on 500 acres on the East edge of Mason City, offering approximately 50 different one- and two-year degrees. It’s also touted as a jumping point for those looking to further their education into a bachelor’s program. NIACC is known for having one of the best AA transfer programs within the state of Iowa.
And it’s all right here in our backyard!
Even better, your child’s journey through the collegiate realm doesn’t have to wait until after their high school graduation day. Many North Iowa high school students take classes via NIACC, earning college credit at the same time as they complete their high school requirement. At that point, they can do with those credits what they please, whether that be toward an AA at NIACC itself, or transferred to another school.
And, as if that isn’t awesome already, these classes are financially covered by the participating high school.
Yup, you read that right. Your child could graduate from high school having a semester, maybe two, or even a full Associates Degree that they received at no charge.
It makes me with I could get a redo from my high school days all those years ago!
Coming from a person who paid on their school loans for 17 years AFTER finishing college… this is an AMAZING opportunity! For students. For parents. For all the schools involved. It proves the point of what is touted as one of NIACC’s greatest strengths, which is forging collaborations and partnerships that are mutually beneficial.
But that’s not the only perk of having NIACC so close. For those students who graduate high school and are on the fence about their future, going to a large college right away isn’t always the best option. NIACC is a great first step. It’s the chance to experience college with the security of being closer to home without breaking the bank. The smaller class sizes and individualized commitment by NIACC professors to see students succeed are a focal point of the school.
Yet, still having all the fun.
NIACC is home to a wide variety of sporting events, musicals, and social groups to join, providing a level of culture and excitement for anyone looking for the full college experience. Housing options are available in their new, state-of-the-art dormitories located just across the pond.
Another fantastic aspect of having NIACC so close, is their work-based learning and trades program. Not every person was made to sit in an office for 8 hours a day. People have different likes and dislikes, unique aspirations for how they want their future to unfold. What we’ve learned over the past few decades, is that the trades are just as important to the well-being of the economy in our country in the workforce as office jobs. We need welders, construction workers, and people who know how to work on diesel engines. It’s a growing portion of NIACC’s core education options, and a perfect fit for many kids in North Iowa after high school.
In part one of this series, we talked about the incredible schools in our two largest communities: Mason City and Clear Lake. They are one reason why moving to North Iowa is the right choice. Having NIACC in such proximity is simply icing on the cake. Or maybe it’s the cherry on top.
Either way, it’s a giant check mark in the “pro” column in case you’re keeping track.
Now, you just need to find the perfect place to live. Thankfully, Jane Fischer and Associates are here to help. Their steadfast knowledge and expertise of residential options in the area will help you find the home of your dreams. Give them a call today and set forth on your journey to North Iowa.