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A Publication of WTVP

With the Internet permeating almost every country and location conceivable, higher education faces new challenges and welcomes new opportunities. The Internet provides community colleges new ways to serve their constituents.

Community colleges like ICC have been developed to serve populations in specific geographic areas. For example, our district covers all or parts of 10 central Illinois counties. While the Internet and online learning enhance opportunities for students in remote areas of our district to access a college education, they also provide exciting new opportunities for degree completion, particularly for students receiving an associate in applied science degree.

A recent agreement with Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, gives ICC graduates an affordable online option for completing their bachelor degree. Through its Community College Alliance program, Franklin University has partnered with 198 community and vocational colleges across the United States and Canada to offer bachelor of science degrees in seven fields of study: applied management, business administration, computer science, digital communication, health care management, management information sciences, and public safety management. The college enrolls 8,200 students each year, including students from 75 foreign countries. It’s accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association—the same body that accredits ICC.

The agreement is a groundbreaking achievement for ICC, but more importantly, it’s significant for our students. Students who previously thought their associate in applied science was a “terminal” degree now have a good avenue for earning their bachelor’s. The joint program through ICC and Franklin allows students to start on their class work by taking “bridge” courses through ICC at ICC tuition rates. Then students begin their online work with Franklin, ultimately earning a bachelor of science degree. This innovative solution provides “career” students an online option they hadn’t had before.

Secondly, the online agreement allows students who live and work here in central Illinois flexibility in earning a bachelor’s degree. Many residents of central Illinois have already begun pursuing master’s and doctorate degrees online or through weekend executive programs so they could remain in the area. Agreements like the one with Franklin now provide that option to those seeking bachelor’s degrees. The cooperative agreement between ICC and Franklin also assures minimal roadblocks in transferring credits. Franklin University maintains a local representative to help students navigate the admissions and online learning process.

Agreements with four-year schools like this one support ICC’s mission to help residents of our district reach their highest educational potential. It isn’t inconceivable that some day ICC will be able to offer courses from many institutions of higher education, located both in the United States and internationally, providing our community with a variety of educational and cultural learning opportunities. And rather than sending our residents to colleges outside our area, through arrangements like the Franklin agreement, we bring those opportunities home to central Illinois. IBI

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