Waking up in Council Bluffs at Iowa Western, we spent the morning eating breakfast, hearing a presentation and taking a tour of the campus. Breakfast was served in the student cafeteria, so we had an opportunity to sample the food that students would eat. Very good! After we ate, the admissions department spoke with us about the many things that make Iowa Western unique-strong sports, lots of housing, programs available, and the many student services. As we toured, we found out about the nursing program with its 16 simulators, the Vet. tech program that runs a animal clinic during the regular school year, mental health counseling, tutoring, the dental hygiene program, and the money available for things like choir participation. The two most interesting things I found about this school were the textbook kiosks that allow a student to “order” textbooks and have them ready for pickup in 15 minutes and the new program “The Point” which works with IT to do things like internships and get credits for MOOCs-online classes through other colleges.
After a bus ride to Creston, we arrived at Southwestern Iowa Community College just in time for lunch. We had a catered meal as the admissions reps sat with each table and talked about the school and the many things it has to offer students. Out of the 1700 students enrolled, about 300 live on campus. They talked about the programs they have such as Auto Tech, Nursing, Music, and Carpentry. Although not known for athletics, they do have a new nationally competitive trapshooting team-two students will even be competing in the Olympics. Creston is small, but it isn’t far to Des Moines, so the college does arrange bus trips and other activities to keep students busy. They have a Y and daycare on campus and a nearby golf course is owned by SWICC. I asked the rep if I have a student who is considering a community college, how would SWICC be unique compared to DMACC, which would be much closer. She said that SWICC does a good job of working with students especially students who have IEPs/504s or may struggle more than the typical student would. We then went on a tour of the campus, but it was a quick tour since we were behind schedule. We were not able to see the home that was just built this year, but we did drive by before we left.
After leaving Creston, we travelled south to Lamoni to visit Graceland University. With just under 1200 students, this college definitely had a small campus feel. It was a beautiful campus that seemed to be a community of itself. Students presented to us in the auditorium and we learned about each of them and why they chose Graceland. The theme seemed to be that students can really get involved and that they become very close to the people there-especially the ones they live with. It was unique in that students live in the same “house” (floor) each of the years and it is mixed with all ages and backgrounds of students. They are really in the middle of nowhere, so the college has many groups and activities to get involved in. After the presentation, we went on a tour of campus, and it was a old and well cared for place. It is affiliated with the Community of Christ church but students are not required to be involved in religion. There is a golf course, 19 Varsity sports, and a large number of students who are from other countries. Most students are not from Iowa-the average distance students come from is 400 miles. The rep wasn’t sure how many Iowa students were enrolled, but the main majors were nursing, business, and education. They do have a number of autisic students and work with students who struggle in what they call the “Chance” program. Supper was in the dining hall and was fine. It was the stereotypical college meal-salad bar and a few hot items to choose from.
Simpson College was our next stop, and we were greeted warmly from the start. Once we checked in, we arrived to our rooms to find a basket of treats, info about the area, and lots of freebies. I though it was especially thoughtful that each room had a homemade sign with our name on it. In the basement, we were welcomed again with snacks, drinks, ping pong, and free massages. The admissions staff took groups of people a short walk downtown to enjoy the patio at a local establishment until closing time around 11:30. The accommodations were nice-bright but the typical dorm room.