In the past few weeks, we have received a myriad of questions and comments regarding the Peoria Promise, a challenge issued by Mayor Jim Ardis for private and business philanthropists to contribute to a fund to provide free college education to Illinois Central College for students who live in Peoria and graduate from public high schools. Peoria Promise is an outstanding opportunity for all students, from those who are under-prepared for college to those who excel academically. While a community college education can be particularly important to those who have financial challenges, ICC offers a sound beginning and a smart academic investment for most students and their families.
Statistics show that students who begin their academic career at ICC do as well or better than those who are native to the four-year university. A community college experience can actually enhance a student’s abilities to succeed in the four-year university environment. Why? Our tenured faculty concentrates solely on teaching. None of our classes are taught by graduate or teaching assistants, and the average ICC class size is 15 students per class. The community college focuses on instruction, not research, NCAA athletics or educating graduate students. We concentrate on the success of undergraduates. That’s our mission. That’s what we do.
That’s not to say that four-year universities should not be involved in research, high-profile sports or graduate education. Those activities are all part of the system of higher education, and there is certainly a place for them in the college experience. But as a community college, our focus is sharp and exclusively limited to excellence in teaching and learning.
In addition to our small classes, ICC offers a variety of ways students can learn, including online learning and classes taught by adjunct faculty who bring their professional, real world experience into the classroom. Our computer labs and equipment are rarely older than three years, which means we have some of the most upto- date technology available. We have staff whose primary job is to help our faculty constantly improve their teaching and learning.
ICC is well-positioned to help all students succeed. The college has free study help available in the math, reading and writing labs. We also have a general help center for other disciplines. Special programs like New World help students who are the first generation to attend college. We have three convenient campuses and offer classes in more than 30 other locations throughout our district. We have counseling services for students who encounter personal issues and activities and clubs to provide the social element experienced on most college campuses. We have multiple places where students can access computers and the Internet for free and outstanding access to libraries and resources across the state. And when students want to transfer, we have dozens of agreements with four-year schools to accept our students and curriculum as well as a transfer center to help make the transition smoothly. We have a lot to offer our students.
Peoria Promise provides unparalleled academic opportunity for the residents of the city of Peoria. As always, ICC is poised and ready to welcome everyone. Some may need extra help in math and reading while others will flourish in our honors program for academically gifted students who revel in the challenging curriculum. Most importantly, all students will be given an opportunity to learn and succeed.
Many people don’t realize all the things we offer, and we do it at a cost that is much less than many other schools. A dollar invested in an ICC education goes a long way for the donor, the student, the parents and the community. Bottom line—an ICC education is a great value and a sound investment. We’re proud to be part of Peoria Promise, but we’re also proud that we are perfectly positioned to deliver on this promise. We can’t wait to welcome the first Promise scholars. IBI