Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 14, 2013

Beyond the numbers

Officials say Ivy Tech graduation rates don't tell whole story

(Continued)

“Should we continue to barely feed something that is starving?” said Kim King, vice chancellor of student affairs for the Ivy Tech Kokomo region.Former Ivy Tech student Kim Plain said less funding is not the answer.

The college needs more resources, she said.

Plain once went to a community college in Texas. She said the Lone Star State values its community college system. There was one in almost every county. And they had a lot of resources. There were even pools and fitness centers at many of them, she said.

“They ensured you could get an education if you wanted it,” Plain said.

And the fact is, Ivy Tech is still the state’s most affordable option for school, the Tipton woman added. For many of Ivy Tech’s students, it’s their only option.“It’s a different demographic here,” she said.

According to Ivy Tech, it serves the most complex student body in higher education. Seventy-three percent of Ivy Tech students statewide are working adults, and 42 percent of them work 20 or more hours a week, according to figures the college compiled. Twenty-one percent of students are single parents. More than half only go to school part time. Only 4 percent of students take 15 or more credit hours, and 40,000 of its students need remediation.

“Our population is different than four-year residential universities,” King said. “You can’t quantify those psychological barriers they face.”

Kokomo’s region has a lot of veterans taking classes. At least one suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Some students live in poverty and deal with childcare issues or have their electricity shut off.

One student is enrolled in the county’s drug court program. He’s going through a complete lifestyle change, including finding a new set of friends.

King said he’s a great student who will do really well, but he faces a lot of barriers.“It’s a shaky life he’s going through right now,” she said. Others only go to school until they find a full-time job. When they do, they decide they need that income to support their families so they drop out.

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