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Ivy Tech Commmunity College to Award a Scholarship to Every High School Valedictorian in Indiana

Jul 29, 2011

Most businesses would likely agree that marketing is a key to success. When it comes to promotion, higher education institutions are not really all that different from large or small businesses or corporations. Recently, Indiana's largest public college came up with a way to provide financial aid to students while generating word about its programs and newly-established credit transfer opportunities. In the end, the college is hoping for a huge return on a relatively mild investment.

By Harrison Howe

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A Promotional Tool

In a move unprecedented in terms of scholarships by any other community college in Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College announced in May 2011 that it would be offering scholarships to every valedictorian of the state's accredited public and private high schools. The scholarships, valued at about $1,500 each and which must be used within two years of graduation, will be made available to about 373 schools.

Do school officials expect every recipient to join the college's 200,000 enrolled students and attend any one of its 24 campuses? Of course not. But what they do hope is that at least 20%-25% decide to redeem the scholarships and attend at least one class. Why?

'Having top-performing students attend benefits students with weaker academic backgrounds, raises the profile of the colleges and improves their relationships with 4-year colleges,' Columbia University Teachers College's Thomas R. Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center, told InsideHigherEd.com in July.

But while it can help community colleges to have top students attend, in terms of both academics and recognition, Ivy Tech also hopes that by awarding these scholarships more people will learn about the school and what it has to offer. Even if a valedictorian decides to take only one class, it is hoped that the experience will prove worthy enough so that the student will then go on to tout the benefits and rewards of attending a community college, thus generating interest from others.

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Transfer System Allows Community College to Be a Great 'Steppingstone'

Perhaps one of the main reasons for the new scholarships is that Ivy Tech wishes to get the word out about its relatively new credit transfer system. With the scholarships, school officials say, students can take a class or two and then transfer the credits to a 4-year college or university. Indiana began its transfer program from community colleges to other institutions in 2008, after having recognized its community colleges only three years before that.

Generally, the scholarship offering exposes students to alternatives they might not have otherwise considered. For instance, taking some credits at a community college might be a great way for them to prepare for college life, select a major or save money before going off to a more expensive school. The ability to transfer credits may make any of these an attractive option. Also, scholarship recipients might consider earning a 2-year degree and getting some work experience before pursuing a baccalaureate degree.

Ivy Tech stresses that the valedictorian scholarship program, which is merit-based, does not take away from needs-based assistance. With no state-mandated enrollment cap, the school says that scholarship recipients will not interfere with other students who have needs to get into specific classes.

If Ivy Tech's offering has a drawback, it's that some valedictorians may have already been accepted to a 4-year institution and would not have use for the award. However, Ivy Tech president Thomas J. Snyder feels that getting the state's top students to attend his school will give it the best exposure. Their experience, even if only a class or two, would be beneficial in helping Ivy Tech 'tell its story'.

We're all taught at a young age to say 'Please' and 'Thank you'. Recently, many colleges are forcing students to use good manners when it comes to receiving scholarships.


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