PEORIA – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited Illinois Central College today during her second stop on a statewide tour to increase college completion rates.
ICC administrators showcased their successful dual credit program with Midland High School, in which high school students take college courses at ICC and simultaneously earn credit toward a high school diploma and college degree. Midland students in the FastStart program save on tuition costs, graduate college early, and get into the job market more quickly.
“To be successful, students need clear pathways to meaningful degrees, career certificates and good jobs in Illinois,” Simon said. “The stakes are high not only for their future, but for the future of our state economy.”
Simon announced earlier this month that the state wants to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent from 41 percent by 2025. This way, Illinois will have the highly skilled and educated workforce necessary to fill jobs of the future.
One challenge schools face is the high number of students who are not college ready. At ICC, 70 percent of all incoming students test into remedial math courses and 60 percent testing into remedial English courses, administrators said. These classes don’t count for credit toward a degree or certificate and can eat up limited financial aid resources or drive students into debt.
“ICC is committed to helping all students, regardless of where they start, get where they want to go,” said ICC President John S. Erwin, noting that enrollment is up 10 percent over last year. “But students who are underprepared for college have a bigger challenge to succeed in the classroom and graduate or complete a program.”
As the Governor’s point person on education, Simon will visit all 48 Illinois community colleges this year to see how they addressing the new completion goal before making policy recommendations to the Governor. Her tour will stop in Metro East and Galesburg next month.
More on Dual Credit
Dual credit classes are offered to students through a partnership of ICC and the respective high school. The partnership typically allows students to take classes at their high school during the regular course of their school day and earn both high school and college credit at the same time. The classes follow the same college syllabus and use the same college textbook as a regular ICC credit class. Teachers of dual credit classes must also meet the same minimum qualifications as any other ICC faculty member. Students pay the ICC tuition rate and receive a grade and college credit on their ICC transcript once they complete the course.
Midland’s FastStart program is unique in that its high school seniors enroll in a full course load at ICC and attend classes on the ICC campus instead of at the high school.