‘Guest’ students at Ivy Tech grow in numbers

From the Herald Times
Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 12:00 am
By Michael Reschke 812-331-4370 | mreschke@heraldt.com

Ivy Tech Bloomington’s efforts to recruit guest students have been paying off. Not only have their numbers been increasing during the past few years, this semester, Bloomington has more than any other campus.

Ten days into the spring 2015 semester, 2,528 guest students were enrolled across all of the community college’s 35 campuses. More than 1,000 of those were enrolled at the Bloomington campus.

“I certainly think it’s our proximity to Indiana University,” said Sam DeWeese, vice chancellor for the Bloomington campus.

Guest students are people who take classes at Ivy Tech but are not pursuing a degree there. In many cases, they are students who are enrolled at a four-year institution, but take a class or two during their summer break to help them graduate on time.

It would make sense, then, that the Ivy Tech campuses near the state’s large, four-year institutions would have the most guest students. That’s true for this semester, but the Bloomington campus has more than twice the number of guest students as the Indianapolis and Lafayette campuses.

The Lafayette campus, which is near Purdue University, has the second-largest number of guest students for the spring semester with 415. The Indianapolis campus, which is near Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, had 414. DeWeese was at a loss to explain why the Bloomington campus had so many more guest students.

“I don’t know why,” he said. “I don’t know their goals, but it’s something we focus on.”

And it’s paid off. In the fall semester of 2013, there were nearly 500 guest students enrolled at the Bloomington campus. In the fall semester of 2014, there were more than 700.

Summer enrollment is up, too. In 2013, there were nearly 1,400 guest students, and in the summer of 2014, there were more than 1,700. DeWeese said the campus has set a goal of a 15 percent increase for this summer, which would put guest student enrollment at about 2,000.

Things like small class sizes, affordability and credits that easily transfer are all reasons DeWeese gave for why students enrolled elsewhere might choose to pick up a few classes at Ivy Tech, but he said word of mouth is the biggest reason for the growth.

“A lot of these things take a while to build,” he said. “It’s finally caught on.”

Partnerships between the Bloomington Ivy Tech campus and IU’s Bloomington campus are likely helping to spread the word, DeWeese said. For example, Hoosier Link offers guaranteed admission to IU Bloomington if students meet certain academic benchmarks. Students in the program take classes at Ivy Tech while living in theHoosier Link Learning Community at McNutt Residence Center on the IU Bloomington campus.

“A lot of students have such a positive experience, when they get to IU, they enjoyed it enough to come back,” DeWeese said.

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