Upon graduating from high school, Keyara Mere wanted to get college done and behind her as soon as possible.
But the Adams Central alum had a specific list of what she wanted in a school: Small classes, a fast pace, affordable.
I wanted to get my career started, Mere said.
While she spent a year working, she eventually – much like many of her 2012 classmates – enrolled at Ivy Tech.
The school – Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution – touted its numbers last month after the release of a state report showing that Indiana public high school graduates in 2012 chose Ivy Tech more than any other public university or college.
The report, released by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, showed that graduates chose the community college by a ratio of 2-to-1 over any other public institution.
According to the report, nearly 28 percent of those graduates chose Ivy Tech, a 3 percent increase over last year, based on data from the previous year’s report.
Indiana University in Bloomington was the next closest, with 13.5 percent of public high school grads choosing to go there.
Locally, Ivy Tech was the No. 1 choice among 2012 graduates at 13 of 35 public high schools in the region. The school was the No. 2 choice at 13 more of those schools.
There are a number of reasons for that, said Cathy Maxwell, vice chancellor of academic affairs at Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast.
We are by far the most affordable choice for students seeking a higher education and we have the core curriculum that is transferable to four-year schools across the state, she continued.
Maxwell also said some students are getting exposure to the school while still in high school. They’re taking classes for college credit while finishing high school, making it easy for them to continue their college career there.
And some of those students are beginning even earlier. Through an early college program, high school freshman can begin earning college credits.
If they stick with the program through four years, they can almost have an associate degree by high school graduation, Maxwell said.
The Fort Wayne campus’s early college program had its first class of graduates come out of Bellmont High School in Decatur this past year. Next year, 30 students at Wayne High School will begin the program, according to Maxwell.
But easily, a big part of the attractiveness for Ivy Tech has been the price, according to school officials.
With the way tuition has skyrocketed across the country, there’s no doubt people are looking more and more to an alternative that’s more affordable and that’s not going to leave students in debt, Maxwell said.
Maxwell also touted the local campus’s instructors, who she said have a passion for teaching and are not faculty members to conduct research or to manage other things.
And obtaining an associate degree at the local campus can be quick, thanks to the Associate Accelerated Program, or ASAP, which aims at getting students to look at college as a job. It also gets them through in a year instead of two.
That worked for Mere, who graduated from the school in May. She earned a degree in business administration and works at Key Exteriors.
She’s not moving on to IPFW to earn her bachelor’s degree and has her eyes on someday owning her own business.
And she’s well on her way, she says, because of how quickly she was able to finish at Ivy Tech.
I like to work my own pace, she says.
That pace ended up being fast – with no debt.