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WITC ranked 7th best two-year college in the nation

Best practices enhance student success

WITC Recognized as Best 7th in the Nation.As students return to the halls of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College’s four campuses, a recent study has proven they have made the right choice. WITC ranks seventh among two-year colleges nationwide, according to a study published in Washington Monthly.

Kevin Carey, a research and policy manager at Education Sector, an independent, nonpartisan think tank, compiled the results for Washington Monthly. According to Carey, “Our methodology was designed to identify community/technical colleges that excel in using teaching methods that researchers have linked to increased student achievement. We also wanted to identify colleges that are successful in helping students earn degrees.”  

Washington Monthly’s community/technical college rankings are the first of their kind. Their ranking methodology relied on the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and graduation rate statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Education.

According to Chuck Levine, WITC President, 93 percent of last year’s graduates were employed within six months of graduating. Based on results of the college’s Six-Month Graduate Follow-up Survey, 76 percent of all graduates are working in Wisconsin and 64 percent are working in the WITC district. “That is one of our strengths,” said Levine. “Our graduates get jobs and they stay and work in Wisconsin.”

CCSSE data is compiled into five categories which have been found to have a positive impact on student success, according to Carey. Those benchmarks are “Active and Collaborative Learning,” “Student Effort,” “Academic Challenge,” “Student-Faculty Interaction,” and “Support for Learners.”  Carey’s research based 85 percent of the college ratings on these CCSSE benchmarks, while 15 percent was based on federal graduation rates.

WITC’s highest CCSSE scores were reflected in the “Active and Collaborative Learning” category. The WITC benchmark for “Student-Faculty Interaction” was also quite high.

“As student senate president and full time nursing student, I spend a lot of my time on campus interacting with students and instructors,” said Heidi Bailen.  “It is no surprise to me that we are ranked so high. The interaction between students and instructors along with the individual attention we receive in each classroom is the key to our success!”

The more interaction students have with their teachers, the more likely they are to learn effectively and achieve their goals. “The high rating reflected in ‘student-faculty interaction and active and collaborative learning’ shows the quality of instruction and the commitment that WITC’s faculty have to their students,” said Dr. Diane Vertin, Vice President, Academic Affairs, and Campus Administrator at WITC Superior. “This is not a surprise—we have always known that faculty members are very student centered and committed to learning.”

Jennifer Kunselman, Research and Planning Coordinator, said the study supports WITC’s student satisfaction surveys regarding the learning environment. Ninety-seven percent of the graduates are satisfied with the training they received at WITC.

While many high school counselors and parents alike will remain more likely to turn to U.S. News & World Report when it comes to choosing a four-year college, Carey is hopeful the Washington Monthly ratings will raise awareness of the quality of our nation’s two-year colleges. “Great teaching can happen anywhere. And if America is to succeed in the future, it needs to happen everywhere.” Certainly, as the rankings and WITC’s own graduates indicate, great teaching is happening in our communities at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.

The rankings included the top 30 two-year colleges in the U.S. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College was the only Wisconsin technical college that made the list. WITC is located in  Northwest Wisconsin with campuses in Ashland, New Richmond, Rice Lake and Superior, and branch campuses in Hayward and Ladysmith