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Diverse needs drive Ivy Tech student base

Recent articles in the Indianapolis Star, as well as other newspapers around the state, have stated that only 4 percent of Ivy Tech students complete their degree. Are we talking about 4 percent of the Ivy Tech students who have no children or grandchildren they are raising? Are we talking about 4 percent of the students who don’t work a full-time job? How about the ones who aren’t already degree holders just taking a few classes, or the 4 percent who are enrolled at another institution who only need one or two courses at Ivy Tech? Are they part of the 4 percent?

While stating a claim like “only 4 percent graduate” may be good for headlines, it surely doesn’t describe the tremendous amount of value that Ivy Tech provides to the most diverse student body in the state.

One of our state’s most famous lawyers has a spouse who goes to Ivy Tech. A nationally recognized, award-winning recording artist is also a student. I took classes with aspiring med students who were also enrolled at IUPUI. I also bumped into a friend working on her MPA. None of these people will graduate with an Ivy Tech degree. Are they part of the 4 percent success rate, or the 96 percent reported failure rate?

This year I was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania. If I had applied directly to Penn without ever attending Ivy Tech, the admissions office wouldn’t have even looked my way. Because I was a student of Ivy Tech, I was able to earn a GPA that turned the heads of Harvard, Yale, Columbia and more than 400 other institutions. Yes, my education at Ivy Tech was not just a short-sighted cheap education solution. Ivy Tech made my ascent to the Ivy League possible.

Count me a part of the 4 percent or whatever percentage you want, just don’t count me or the thousands of others who found their way through the doors of Ivy Tech a failure.

Casey Bridgeford, a former Ivy Tech student, is a student at University of Pennsylvania and interns at the Wharton Social Impact Initiative. He wrote this for Indiana newspapers.

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