February’s monthly column from Lake Land College President, Dr. Josh Bullock:
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lake Land College we take pause to recognize the historic Junior College Act passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 1965 to create a statewide community college system. One of the foremost goals of this system was to provide access to an affordable college education for all Illinois residents. Guaranteeing accessibility to higher education for all was a new concept, as area residents had limited access to local higher-level academic, career and technical training opportunities at the time.
Today, all who desire to earn a college education in Illinois have direct access to one of 48 community colleges located throughout the state. Online courses allow additional accessibility to students for reaching their goals any time, any place. Lake Land College provides opportunities for students in all stages of life – from those earning a GED to educated professionals seeking to update skills. Each year nearly 1 million students attend a community college in Illinois, while more than 22,000 of those students choose to attend Lake Land College.
One of Lake Land’s goals emphasizes a commitment to quality, access and affordability. The College continually seeks ways of ensuring accessibility for all residents of its district. The Presidential Scholarship program is a recent initiative focused on providing accessibility to higher education for in-district high school students. All recent high school graduates who are in the top 15 percent of their graduating class, or achieve a 26 or higher on the ACT, are eligible to attend Lake Land College tuition free for two years. This scholarship guarantees that all students who want to go to college and work hard to achieve their goals have an opportunity to earn a degree.
In addition, the Lake Land College Foundation annually awards more than $400,000 in scholarships to students. It is because of the generosity of hundreds of donors and business partners that opportunities are available to so many deserving students. We are grateful to our community partners and friends for believing in our students and the value of a Lake Land College education.
It has been said that college students learn as much from their classes as they do from their campus experience. Our strong athletic programs, plethora of student clubs, weekly student activity period events and engaged student government add to the richness of a student’s college experience. There are additionally many campus resources available to assist students in navigating their educational challenges, including programs focused on addressing specialized student needs such as the TRiO Student Support Services which provides academic and financial planning assistance; Work & Learn that provides mentoring opportunities and tuition assistance to adults returning to college; and the Tutoring & Testing Center that provides free tutoring on a daily basis.
Although Lake Land College’s tuition and fees are only one fourth of the cost of a state public university, students still need to create plans to pay for their college education. Lake Land College offers free financial aid workshops for all residents of the district each fall. Of those who apply for financial aid, on average about 75 percent receive assistance. Lake Land’s payment plan allows students to make monthly payments toward their bill. One of the greatest savings students experience is through the textbook rental system which saves students an average of $1,400 per year.
Lake Land College is committed to continuing the strong tradition of accessibility and affordability espoused by those who established the Illinois Community College system back in 1965. The Lake Land family looks forward to another 50 years of welcoming students and providing them with the tools to engage their minds, and change their lives through the power of learning.
Dr. Josh Bullock
Lake Land College President