Community colleges celebrate 40 years in Iowa
NIACC celebrated an anniversary to be proud of this year. NIACC has been a part of the Iowa Community College System for 40 years.
In 1918, Mason City opened the doors to the first junior college west of the Mississippi as Mason City Junior College.
The Iowa Community College System started in the 1966 to create a statewide system of two-year postsecondary colleges. Since the system came into existence after Mason City Junior College was started, the college had to make several changes in order to fit into the system.
“There were difficulties deciding the boundaries of the college and sister institutions and where the college should be located, Dr. Michael Morrison, NIACC’s president, said. “There was also statewide debate on the role of community colleges, whether the new system would provide as a transfer opportunity to four-year universities.”
To fit into Iowa Community College System, Mason City Junior College now became North Iowa Area Community College, in order to serve Mason City and the surrounding north Iowa area. The Iowa Community College system plays a vital role to the community college student. “We provide open access to education,” Morrison said. “Community colleges are the single largest provider of education in Iowa.”
Another benefit of community colleges is the location. Students are within driving range to each community college in their area.
The community college system also caters to adults continuing in their education. Nearly 3,000 adult students take advantage of continuing education at NIACC while 350,000 adult students take advantage of the continuing education programs that Iowa’s community colleges have to offer.
With the rising cost of education, community colleges are a huge help to students.
“Community colleges make sure students graduate, they don’t have a burdensome dent that plagues them for life,” Morrison said. The Iowa Community College System also provides convenience to the community college student. “Community colleges provide student support system, small class sizes, and one-on-one attention,” Morrison said. “Not everyone is ready to go to the big city and not everyone is comfortable with large class sizes.”