Earlier this year Lake Land College undertook an effort to better understand the demographics of the residents and communities it serves across its 15 county district. To assist with this endeavor, Lake Land reached out to the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences Extension office. Experts from the Extension office conducted an in-depth study of the demographic and economic factors of the communities within the Lake Land College district.
We learned a great deal from the research and along the way realized how valuable the research and data that resulted from this endeavor could be for all of our business and community partners in east central Illinois. We are excited to share it with you on the new website for the office of the president.
The report, titled Data for Decision Makers, covers key areas such as population, household income levels, educational attainment, employment by industry and occupation and employment projections. The report includes data from 31 public school districts in the communities of: Altamont, Arthur, Beecher City, Brownston, Casey-Westfield, Charleston, Cowden-Herrick, Cumberland, Dieterich, Effingham, Jasper County, Kansas, Marshall, Martinsville, Mattoon, Neoga, North Clay, Oakland, Okaw Valley, Pana, Paris, Ramsey, Shelbyville, Shiloh, South Central, St. Elmo, Stewardson-Strasburg, Sullivan, Teutopolis and Windsor.
To assist the college with better understanding the behaviors, spending patterns, educational attainment and lifestyle choices, the Extension staff researchers included information from the ESRI Business Analyst 2017 report. The report identifies the top three ESRI Tapestry Segments in our district, which describe neighborhoods based on socioeconomic and demographic data.
Interestingly, the Lake Land College region as a whole is described first as a Heartland Community. According to the ESRI Demographic web page, we are “settled and close-knit…semirural and semiretired. These older householders are primarily homeowners, and many have paid off their mortgages. Their children have moved away, but they have no plans to leave their homes. Their hearts are with the country; they embrace the slower pace of life here but actively participate in outdoor activities and community events. Traditional and patriotic, these residents support their local businesses, always buy American, and favor domestic driving vacations over foreign plane trips.”
In addition to the tapestry segments, the Data for Decision Makers report includes detailed economic data, showing the poverty level within the Lake Land College district ranges from a low of 9.8 percent to as high as 19.3 percent. The numbers are even more staggering when we look at our youth population. The percentage of low income students within the K-12 school districts in 2016-2017 ranged from a low of 10 percent to a high of 74 percent.
At Lake Land College, we will be looking closely at this data for opportunities to partner with educational institutions, businesses and communities to advance student success, educate a skilled workforce and enhance the educational attainment of our citizens. We hope you will join us in considering how this data can open new conversations as we collectively plan for the future of our region.
As your community college, our goal is to provide services that are relevant to your businesses and communities. We are proud to partner with many community and economic organizations throughout the district to achieve goals that improve the opportunities in our area.
By seeking feedback from industry leaders and professionals on our program advisory boards we regularly gather input to improve our courses and program offerings. During the past few years, Lake Land College has created nine new programs and made significant changes to eight existing programs in response to industry feedback and workforce needs. Our expert faculty, staff and Center for Business & Industry resources allow us to be flexible and responsive to the needs of employers.
Regionally, we are experiencing a gap between the number of job openings and the trained, skilled employees available to fill those positions. This gap is magnified on a national level. According to a recent study conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute, six out of 10 skilled production positions currently go unfilled due to a lack of trained applicants. In just seven years, the unfilled jobs in manufacturing are projected to top 2 million. These projections are particularly relevant in our Lake Land College district as manufacturing is by far the largest employment sector, according to the Data for Decision Makers report prepared by the University of Illinois Extension and Lake Land College.
Part of developing a solution to this issue is to create training programs that move students through an educational module in a timely fashion. We realize employee shortages drain the bottom line. To address this issue, Lake Land College has partnered with industry leaders to provide training in non-traditional, accelerated formats. Recent examples include the IT-LaunchCode, 20-week web application development certificate and LSC Communications Fast Track, an eight-week manufacturing skills certificate.
We understand the process of hiring skilled employees can also be a challenge. Lake Land College’s fast track partnerships offer companies a means to integrate skill development into the hiring process. By screening the applicants ahead of time and offering courses relevant to the needs of a specific industry, graduates are well trained and ready to be hired in just weeks versus years.
Our Lake Land College Board of Trustees recently reaffirmed the college’s commitment to developing a trained workforce for the region we serve through creation of a new Workforce Solutions Tuition and Fee waiver program. If a district business develops a specialized certificate program in collaboration with the college, and the business promises to hire all of the completers, the college will guarantee tuition and fees will be covered for the students. In other words, as long as an employer agrees to hire the graduates, then there is no out of pocket cost to the sponsoring business or the students. It’s that simple.
We want to ensure students have the opportunity to take advantage of these unique opportunities to earn a valuable education, while creating a pathway for a successful career right here in our community. We also want our local employers to know we are committed to helping take their companies to the next level.
Partnerships like these are the key to providing an educated workforce that in turn results in a thriving economy and community. What can Lake Land College do to help your company reach its goals? Let’s start the conversation.
Many times I am asked how Lake Land College developed a new innovative idea or formed a unique partnership with an organization that truly fulfilled its needs. People are often surprised by my very simple response: “It all started with a conversation.”
Conversations are the cornerstone of what we do here at Lake Land and what I know you do every day as volunteers in your community, leaders in your company and educators of our youth. Today, I extend an invitation to you to be a part of the conversations we are having here at Lake Land College.
As your community college, we want to talk with you about the data we have gathered, the innovative solutions we have implemented and the accomplishments of our organization as we strive to meet the district’s needs.
And, as your community college, we want to listen.
To connect us across the miles, we have launched a new online presence for the Office of the President. The site includes updated information on district-wide data, college and regional reports and resources that we hope you will utilize in making decisions or creating plans for the future.
The site also includes brief biographies and contact information for my office and that of our college cabinet.
To stay in touch, we ask that you sign up to receive monthly emails on topics relevant to our communities, businesses and education. To share content specific to your interests, we ask that you identify with at least one of the following categories: alumni, business, community, education and Lake Land College retiree.
And, as I said earlier, I truly want to know what is going on in your area. Please take advantage of the website link to invite me to attend or speak at your upcoming event. I welcome the opportunity to share our Lake Land story and learn of new opportunities for Lake Land College to serve.
You will find the site at lakelandcollege.edu. Look for the “About Us” drop-down menu and click on “Office of the President.”
I look forward to our next conversation.
On May 11, 2018, Lake Land College celebrated its 50th spring commencement. In those five decades, more than 56,500 students have graduated from Lake Land College and moved on to brighter futures.
To put the college’s impact into perspective, one in four people living in the East Central Illinois Lake Land district is a Laker Alumnus. Our graduates are likely your neighbors, your community leaders and your trusted nurses, teachers and service technicians.
During this year’s celebration, we were fortunate to welcome back several Lake Land College Board of Trustee members who served throughout our history. Len Defend, Henry Merz, Carl Hart, Gary Kuhns and Kent Metzger joined Bob Johnston and Dr. Leland McNeil who served on the very first Lake Land College Board. In those early years, trustees established a unique higher educational opportunity that put the needs of students first. They never imagined Lake Land would grow from a small college holding its first commencement in 1968 at the First Baptist Church in Mattoon to a nationally-recognized college serving 20,000 students per year, celebrating 1,600 graduates each spring and hosting an expansive, beautiful 317-acre campus.
The Laker Nation Class of 1968 included many nurses, business majors and technical graduates. The Laker Nation Class of 2018 received degrees and certificates in more than 150 majors. It includes students who entered college immediately upon high school completion, those who returned to college after several years in the workplace and those who enrolled in college to train for a new career.
One of those graduates is Dustin Rhoads. Early in his career, Dustin completed degrees in Emergency Medical Services and Nursing, but found he thrived on the pace of the emergency services profession. He returned to Lake Land and graduated this spring with a degree in Paramedical Services.
Charles Cox found himself at Lake Land College after his position was eliminated at GE. He hadn’t been in a classroom for 30 years, yet with determination and hard work he achieved his goal. He often slept in his car after working third shift before class and took advantage of tutoring services to help him through math courses. Like many of our graduates, he was hired in a new job before he even graduated.
Tina Hooper graduated from high school more than 30 years before she enrolled in college. She first completed a basic nurse assisting course and then went on to pursue an associate degree in Human Services. She discovered her true potential and will transfer to Eastern Illinois University this fall following graduation.
Tina, Charles and Dustin are just a few of the many outstanding graduates who have worked hard to reach their goals. As college leaders we can only imagine the challenges many of our students have overcome and worked through to join us onstage during commencement.
We thank all who have been a part of our commencement celebration. As our anniversary festivities come to a close this summer, we look forward to another 50 years of serving you and our communities, and celebrating with our future graduates.
April is National Community College month, an appropriate time to dispel myths about transferability of community college credits and celebrate Lake Land’s success in preparing students to transfer on to a four-year institution and earn a bachelor’s degree.
Whether a student is transferring to an in-state university, or a college outside Illinois, Lake Land College offers transferable degrees and courses that ensure transfer students are well prepared for the next stage of their academic journey. Our Institutional Research office compiles an annual report that details the grade point averages (GPA) of our transfer students at their transfer institution. Each year, the data tells us that our graduates earn GPAs for their coursework at the transfer university that are higher than the students who began their journey at that campus. For example, in 2017, the average university GPA of all Lake Land transfer students was 3.27 compared to an average GPA of 2.93 for native university students who enrolled as freshmen.
In addition, Lake Land transfer students are overwhelmingly successful in their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. The 2017 Transfer Report looked at a cohort of Lake Land students between 2011 and 2017 that transferred to a four-year institution. Of those cohort students, 93 percent of them graduated with a bachelor’s degree and 87 percent of them did so from an Illinois university.
We pride ourselves on these data points, but they tell only part of the story. The entire Laker experience is designed around high standards of academic rigor and support services that lead to student success. Once a student declares a Transfer Ready major, academic counselors and advisors work with him or her to create a personalized path ensuring Lake Land courses will count toward the intended major at the transfer university.
If students need to explore options, they can stop by the Transfer Resource Room in the Northwest Building. Students can meet with university transfer coordinators and gather information from U.S. colleges. They can also visit the Counseling Services website where they will find established transfer guides and resources. Don’t see the preferred transfer college there? No worries. An academic counselor will work with that university to create an individualized plan for the student.
Mapping out courses is just one step in the journey. At Lake Land, students have access to free tutoring as well as several opportunities to build their resumes with leadership skills, community service and campus involvement. Those of particular interest to transfer students include the National Society of Leadership and Success and the Honors Experience which combines the valuable options of the Presidential Scholarship, Phi Theta Kappa honorary society and enhanced learning through honors courses.
We are excited to welcome a new group of transfer students to campus this summer and fall. No matter from which university a student ultimately would like to earn a bachelor’s degree, Lake Land is an affordable and well-respected college to begin the journey. For those students graduating this spring who are undecided, please know they will always be welcome here at their community college, Lake Land College.
APRIL 6- The oldest community college in the nation, Illinois’ Joliet Junior College*, was established some 117 years ago by then Joliet Township High School Superintendent J. Stanley Brown and University of Chicago President William Rainey Harper. Advocates for higher education, Brown and Harper encouraged students to attend college as a pathway to prosperity. Realizing that a university education was financially out of reach for many students, Brown and Harper introduced the importance of a low-cost, high quality education that could be pursued locally, and thus the community college was born. Despite the G.I. Bill (1944), federally guaranteed student loans (1965) and Pell grants (1980) which expanded access to higher education for millions of Americans since that time, the important role of community colleges has not changed.
Following more than a century of existence there is still a lack of clarity among some as to the mission of community colleges. President Trump’s recent statement, “I don’t know what that means, a community college. Call it vocational and technical. People know what that means. They don’t know what a community college means” reflects that as community colleges we must continue to broadly and vocally tell our story and share our collective mission.
Certainly vocational and technical training remain a piece of our mission, yet the totality of the programs and services we offer to our communities extends well beyond this limited moniker. Today’s community colleges are often the economic engine for their local communities and the first choice for many students to begin, or-re-establish, their educational and professional journey. Program offerings are driven by local business and industry needs for a skilled workforce and through partnerships with universities to provide access to baccalaureate degrees. Community colleges serve a rich diversity of individuals from all socio-economic, cultural and generational backgrounds, extending well beyond traditional college age students to include high school students, returning adults, incumbent workers and senior citizens.
April is community college month, providing the perfect venue to give thanks for, and extol the virtues of, the work our nation’s 1,100 community colleges undertake to serve more than 12 million students who walk through our doors in a given year. Walter Bumphus, president of the American Association of Community Colleges, summed it up best in a recent editorial by stating, “Traditional and cutting-edge, community colleges represent the best of American higher education. They are unapologetically accessible and provide a critical pathway for students to reach their educational goals. For many students, that means they complete their first two years of college without a mountain of debt, with a solid foundation taught by many of the same professors that teach students in the university setting, and with a guaranteed transfer to a university. For the community college, they do this with less money and far less alumni support than their university counterparts.”
Community colleges are truly America’s colleges. As community college month is celebrated across the country, I feel proud to be part of our Lake Land family and want to thank each of you for your dedication to our mission, and for your efforts in helping our students achieve the American Dream of a college education.
*Though not often recognized in our history, which college was actually the first junior college is a topic of continued dispute among Lasell College in Auburndale, MA and Vincennes University in Vincennes, IN.
MARCH 26– If I asked how you think most college students learn, most likely you would say through lectures, reading textbooks, studying and taking tests. While this model is the traditional foundation of our higher education system, today’s learning environments are rapidly changing. Open educational resources (OER), electronic textbooks, video conferencing, virtual reality, game based learning and so many more innovations are finding their way into the lesson plans of educators.
While traditional classroom concepts are evolving, our college continues to build on unique learning experiences. Our Workforce Ready programs, also known as career and technical majors, have always relied heavily on a combination of book and hands-on learning using real-world tools and techniques. This combination of learning works so well for thousands of students each year at Lake Land and more than two-thirds of all community college students in Illinois, according to the Illinois Community College Board.
At Lake Land College, we offer more than 100 Workforce Ready majors that train students with the skills necessary to graduate and enter the regional workforce. Our latest economic impact study indicated that nine out of 10 area employers have hired a Lake Land College alumnus in the past. We’re seeing similar results with our current Laker Alumni Pride campaign. One area company discovered 25 percent of its 400 employees are Laker Alumni. Another was excited to report that all of their employees were alumni. What an amazing testament to Lake Land’s impact on our local economy.
These alumni made the wise decision to invest in a Lake Land College education, allowing them to enter the workforce with a positive financial outlook. To put the value of a Workforce Ready degree into perspective, consider that a Lake Land education costs roughly $4,000 per year, or $8,000 for a degree. A student who graduates in two years and secures employment in a technical field at $40,000 per year will see a net positive return of $72,000 after four years. In that same four-year time period, a student who attends a university will face an average of $16,000 per year in tuition and fees (excluding room and board), or $64,000 for a degree. At the conclusion of those four years, the graduate will just be getting started, possibly facing a future with significant student loan debt.
Through our program advisory committees, Lake Land College instructors regularly consult with industry professionals to ensure our course content is relevant and reflects the needs of area businesses. Our faculty regularly seek new opportunities to help students reach their educational goals. This summer the college will introduce the new IT-LaunchCode certificate, in conjunction with St. Louis based tech training company LaunchCode. This 20-week boot camp trains students in web application development skills and will be offered in the evenings at the Lake Land Kluthe Center in Effingham. The Medical Assistant major has added a new flexible online component to its options. Students can now take all of their classes online and only have to travel to campus one night a week for lab.
Providing relevant work experience is at the forefront of our Workforce Ready programs and these opportunities will expand with a new apprenticeship program that is being developed through a grant from the Illinois Community College Board. Plans are to create at least 30 new apprenticeships in both the production technician and the plastics manufacturing fields as well as the finance and banking field.
As you think about your future, or that of your child’s, I encourage you to explore a Workforce Ready major at Lake Land College. The combination of hands-on learning and classroom experience may be a perfect investment in your future success.
FEB. 2- In what has been dubbed a potential watershed moment in healthcare, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, and JP Morgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon announced the formation of a new healthcare company this week. The company will be established under the seldom used B corporation structure to serve society in such a way that the company is obligated to balance profit and purpose. Essentially, the endeavor strives to change the face of healthcare as we know it today and bring innovation to an industry many feel is fraught with inefficiencies, unnecessary costs and a lack of patient centeredness. As Forbes noted, “With this new health care company, they seem to have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn words into action, make a legacy play that would impact the lives of millions in the near term, and help fix a broken system in the longer term.”
Granted the history of healthcare is filled with stories of companies attempting to change the landscape, and failing. Some pundits would argue that the healthcare system in the United States is simply too large and entrenched in its ways to make any meaningful and substantive change possible. But, Amazon has proven to be a disruptive force in whatever industry it has entered, and it rarely fails. And consider that the three lead organizations are known to play the long-game, emphasizing systemic change over short-term gains. In essence, their efforts likely won’t be easily discouraged by bumps along the way and they are certain to see more CEOs clamoring to join the party.
By now you may be wondering what relevance a new partnership in healthcare may have on the world of higher education, and how did it find its way into a Bull’s Eye column? For starters, there are many similarities between healthcare and higher education. Both are esteemed institutions deeply woven into the fabric of our country, filled with rich histories and a passionate commitment to tradition. More importantly, healthcare is not the only industry under the watchful eye of Amazon. While news broke of the Bezos, Buffett and Dimon collaboration in healthcare, Amazon was quietly building on its educational capacity.
Just this week Amazon hired Candace Thille, a Stanford University leader in learning science and open education, to be its director of learning science and engineering. According to the digital news site Quartz, “Thille is famous specifically for her data-driven work, conducted at Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University, on nontraditional ways of learning, teaching, and training.” Although Amazon’s move to strengthen its education platform currently appears more focused on workplace training than traditional academics, it does give us pause to consider the next possible step in its evolution. Is an Amazon college degree on the horizon?
With Amazon appearing quite comfortable taking on the complex and bureaucratic U.S. healthcare system, it likely would have few qualms entering the equally complex and bureaucratic higher education landscape. Although far from imminent, Amazon’s hiring of a higher education expert provides a foreshadowing of what is to come, and a stark reminder that we must diligently innovate to remain relevant. Today, more than ever, higher education administration and faculty must work together to address the rapidly changing landscape. We must be willing to let go of tradition to develop academic offerings, delivery modalities and services that are truly student-centric and data-informed. Success will require a renewed agility in responding to local needs and a certain level of comfort with taking calculated risks. And, if you don’t believe me, just ask Alexa!
Dr. Josh Bullock
Lake Land College President
FEB. 9- Just this week legislation was introduced in Illinois to merge the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) and the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). Senator Chapin Rose introduced SB2597 which proposes to form a new Illinois Board of Higher Education to oversee all functions currently managed by ICCB, ISAC and IBHE. The proposed new board would have equal representation from community colleges and universities, and faculty from each institution would be actively engaged.
tails of HB4103 introduced last fall by Representative Dan Brady and Senator Rose to create higher education strategic centers of excellence. As outlined by the JG-TC the bill “calls for a comprehensive overhaul of higher education, including a uniform admissions application for all public universities, automatic admission to an ‘academically appropriate’ public university for high school students with a grade B or better average, merit-based financial aid and a ranking of the quality of academic departments,” in addition to the possibility of a performance-based funding model.
Couple the proposed legislation with the recent formation of a bipartisan legislative working group to discuss means of strengthening higher education in the state and a picture begins to form that we are on the cusp of change in Illinois.
Let me be clear that I am neither endorsing nor criticizing the proposed legislation, as we are far too early in the process to make any clear judgments on the impact and merits of the proposals. Rather, I think the legislative movement serves as another stark reminder that we need to remain relevant and innovative in our work.
In all fairness, the epic challenges facing higher education are not confined to Illinois’ state boundaries. A February 6th editorial in Forbes clearly outlined the myriad of forces impacting higher education today from escalating costs amidst tightening resources to declining enrollments pressuring increased competition. These forces are driving colleges and universities to proactively change their historically conservative and tradition-bound business models, as evidenced by several notable examples of institutions that have reached beyond their comfort zone to experiment with new programs, services, delivery modalities and funding structures.
Southern New Hampshire University, for example, was a small private college serving roughly 5,000 students in 1995 prior to branching into a national on-line program model geared toward working adults. Today, the university has a global presence and serves 80,000 online students. Other institutions, such as Georgia Tech with its $10,000 on-line master’s degree, Arizona State with its Global Freshman Academy, and Purdue with its recent purchase of the for-profit Kaplan University, are transforming higher education through calculated risk taking in the pursuit of satiating student changing demands.
The headwinds in higher education are shifting and the colleges that find success navigating the turbulent waters are those willing to adjust the main sail and glide into uncharted waters. We can either lead the transformation, or be led. I am confident the Lake Land family has the creativity, intellect and fortitude to adjust the sails and traverse the less traveled seas. So all hands on deck, grab a rope, and anchors away!
Originally published February 26, 2015
Prologue: With recent discussions centering on innovation at Lake Land College, it seemed appropriate to re-share a Bull’s Eye article originally published in February 2015. Hopefully it adds to the ideas currently circulating in your minds!
In a recent Brookings Institution article the firm introduces a viable alternative to the more traditional higher education model, the microdegree. The MOOC powerhouse Coursera is partnering with “Google, Instagram and other tech firms to launch what some are calling ‘microdegrees’ – a set of online courses plus a hands-on capstone project designed in conjunction with top universities and leading high-tech firms.”
The microdegrees, or nanodegrees as MOOC developer Udacity calls them, are designed to be highly focused workforce driven degrees that prepare individuals for employment in specific job fields. Although many may still consider MOOCs a passing fad they are evolving and gaining traction in the marketplace. The Brookings Institution posits MOOCS stand poised to present a credible threat to the traditional higher education model for several reasons.
First, MOOC developers have worked hard to shore up quality issues that plagued early attempts, much as universities and colleges have as they navigated the online educational marketplace over the past several decades. MOOC firms are building credibility and capacity through partnerships with prestigious colleges and universities, such as the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgia Tech.
Second, major corporations who are frustrated with a perceived disconnect between traditional higher education and the workforce needs are beginning to see value in focused training for its employees through MOOCs. The article notes, “New entrants like College for America, which now offers a $10,000 bachelor’s degree, are also teaming up with major employers such as Anthem Blue Cross, Gulf Oil, and McDonald’s to offer customized degrees.”
Third, moves to streamline and reform higher education accrediting processes have opened the door for new learning modalities and business models. In addition, having major employers certify the microdegree curriculum lends tremendous market credibility to those looking to garner workforce skills.
Finally, microdegrees offer a pathway to customized degree programs. Although a single microdegree may not in itself make one individual more employable than another, the linking of multiple microdegrees into a more comprehensive degree could provide a unique pathway to employment. Imagine a world where a college or university couples several microdegrees from various institutions with some type of capstone activity to create a customized and comprehensive college degree.
I realize there are folks who will dismiss MOOCs and microdegrees as passing fads, much as they may have done with online education 20 years ago, but the reality is our higher education landscape is evolving rapidly. New delivery modalities, an increasingly competitive landscape, fiscal belt tightening and growing public cynicism for the value of a college education will continue to impact our world. Like it or not, agree or disagree, the institution of higher education is changing and the traditional model is simply not sustainable in the long term. If we are to continue engaging minds, and changing lives, through the power of learning then we absolutely must embrace our core value of innovation and lead the charge.
JAN. 18– Over the past decade a crisis has been brewing that has the potential to profoundly impact the very foundation of higher education. The crisis surrounds the precipitous rise of student loan debt. Over the past decade student loan debt in the United States has grown by 150 percent, topping out at $1.4 trillion. As Forbes magazine notes, “student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.”
More than 44 million U.S. residents, roughly 14 percent of the population, are saddled with student loan debt. The data demonstrates that student loan debt is forcing many individuals to delay major life events, like purchasing a home, getting married or having children.
Fortunately, college students in our area have the opportunity to create a future with a much brighter forecast. By choosing Lake Land College to start, or earn, their college degree their future life plans can include vacations, new cars, a walk down the aisle and mortgage payments. Lake Land College’s tuition and fees for two years are about $7,800, including textbooks. In contrast, the average cost for tuition and fees for the first two years of a bachelor’s degree from a public university is about $28,000. Add on the cost of housing, estimated at $20,000, and the purchasing of textbooks, estimated at $2,600 and the tab for those two years quickly escalates.
In essence, it’s a comparison of $50,000 to $8,000 for the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. That’s an enormous difference when thinking about the potential debt facing a college graduate. The gap grows wider when compared to private colleges or technical schools.
As an institution, we are committed to creating an environment where a student can earn a college education and enter the workforce with minimal debt. Two ways that we assist students are through Lake Land College Foundation scholarships and the Presidential Scholarship. All high school students have the opportunity to qualify for the Presidential Scholarship by graduating in the top 15 percent of their class or earning a 1240 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT. Each year, the Lake Land College Foundation awards nearly $400,000 in scholarships to deserving students. I encourage all who will be attending Lake Land this fall to complete the application by February 1 at 5 p.m. online at lakelandcollege.edu/scholarships/.
While we often hear requests from legislators and commitments from university presidents to minimize the cost of higher education, community colleges in Illinois have been living up to that commitment for more than 50 years. And, students are taking note. In Illinois, two-thirds of the undergraduate students enrolled in public higher education are attending community colleges. In our own Lake Land College district, community college is the top choice among high school graduates with more than 50 percent of the college-bound class of 2017 starting the fall semester as Lakers.
The higher education landscape continues to evolve with emerging technologies and heightened demands for workforce training. Community colleges are agents of change that readily adapt to the evolving needs of the communities we serve, yet one area we will hold steadfast is in our pledge to maintain opportunities for a quality, affordable college education.