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A Publication of WTVP

On December 26, Illinois Central College offered classes for the first time at 5407 North University in Peoria. This site, known as ICC-North, provides the college another location in the City of Peoria. The importance of this site revolves around ICC’s mission—accessible, affordable education for those we serve in our college district.

Access, in terms of education, has several elements. One significant element, however, has to do with ease of getting to and from classes. For students of traditional four-year institutions who live in residence halls, the idea of access has little meaning. But for commuter students, like those who attend community college, access looms large. Travel time, travel conditions, and means of transportation often make the difference between staying in college and quitting.

The location of ICC-North enhances access for a large number of students in the ICC District. ICC-North is located in Census Tract 30 of the State of Illinois. This tract borders University, Austin, Glen, and Ronald. In this tract alone, there are nearly 900 people of the age group (15 to 29) ICC typically serves. Another 733 people of the same age group live in the Census Tract 29, immediately to the east of ICC-North. Nearly 1,600 young people who potentially can benefit from ICC-North live within a short distance of the campus.

In total, more than 18,000 people of this age group live within the city limits of Peoria. That represents 16 percent of the total Peoria population, according to the United States Census Bureau. The location of ICC-North provides tremendous opportunity in the near future for this large number of potential students to access college services—including course work, career planning, and counseling services—at a location in their home town.

Another 16 percent, or 18,427 people, who live in the city are 62 years or older. Forty-eight percent of these older adults reside in zip code areas 61614 and 61604, the zip code zone of ICC-North and the zip code zone just south of ICC-North. The close proximity of an institution of higher learning with easy parking for these older adults provides them with another incentive to reap the benefits of life-long learning and social interaction, without the travel expense and difficulties associated with crossing the Illinois River.

Finally, the location of ICC-North reduces some of the travel barriers to partnerships with District 150 high schools. Although the geographic distance between most of the high schools and the East Peoria location of ICC is generally less than 10 miles, the psychological distance is greater. Crossing the bridge, threading through typical commuter traffic, and long rides on public transportation can create disincentives for Peoria high schools and for high school students to take advantage of classes at the East Peoria site.

But ICC-North removes some of these barriers. For example, the physical distance between Richwoods, Manual, and Central High Schools and ICC-East Peoria is around nine miles. That distance shrinks to less than a mile for Richwoods, six miles for Manual, and just under four miles for Central when traveling to ICC-North. While these distances may seem minimal, over the course of a school year the mileage adds up for students and school districts.

For many adults, commuting to work is no big deal. But for students who commute, the expense of travel and time takes its toll. Retention of students who come to college continues to be an issue for colleges, particularly community colleges where many of our students are at risk of dropping out right from the beginning. Closer proximity to home and ease of transportation are just some of the ways we can help students invest in their futures. ICC-North goes the distance in doing just that. IBI

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