It’s never an easy choice when seeking the perfect college — there are plenty of things to consider. Here are some of the top institutions available here in our region.
Choosing a college may be one of the most important life decisions you will ever make. It takes great time and consideration to find the school that best fits your needs, and there are many things to consider.
What kind of campus environment are you looking for? Do you want to live at home and commute, or stay on campus in a dormitory? What coursework strengths do you want? What can a prospective college offer in terms of career counseling and placement? Do you prefer a large university, a small private college or something in-between?
To assist you in making this meaningful choice, our college guide profiles some of the outstanding higher education options available in the Old Northwest Territory.
(Private/Four-Year/Nonprofit) 1450 Alta Vista St. • Dubuque, Iowa • explore.loras.edu
Perched on bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa, Loras College is dedicated to providing students with a rich and engaging liberal arts education. Leveraging its historic roots as Iowa’s first college and the second-oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River, Loras delivers challenging, life-changing experiences in a supportive, residential Catholic setting.
With nearly 40 undergraduate majors and 12 pre-professional programs, Loras College has the resources to help students succeed. More than 95.9 percent of the Loras Class of 2014 were employed or continuing their education within one year of graduation. With small, interactive classes, students have the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with professors and their classmates. They also receive the benefit of technology in the classroom – such as the Media Studies Lab or the on-site DNA Lab – and academic resources such as the Writing Center, Math Assistance Program and Supplementary Instruction Program.
Most Loras students study abroad, participate in service opportunities or take advantage of work internships. In fact, 56 percent of Loras’ 2014 graduating seniors completed credited internships coordinated through the college. Student service is a point of pride at the college, and has earned Loras a place on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since 2008, receiving a “with distinction” notation since 2009. Loras College was the first in the nation to receive the President’s Award for Interfaith Community Service, the highest federal honor a higher education institution can receive for its commitment to community service and interfaith efforts.
Students rally behind Dewey the Duhawk, who stands proudly as the Loras College mascot. Dewey supports the 23 varsity sports offered to student-athletes, who compete in the NCAA Division III and Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Loras is proud of its top-notch athletic facilities, including the Rock Bowl Stadium and multi-level Athletic and Wellness Center. As a student-athlete at Loras, you can enjoy a well-rounded experience that balances challenging academics and competitive athletics – preparing you for victory on and off the field.
With more than 70 clubs and organizations, the Loras College campus is overflowing with co-curricular opportunities. From academic organizations to special-interest groups and student government, students can immerse themselves in activities they love while making lifelong friends along the way.
Northern Michigan University
(Public/Four-Year) 1401 Presque Isle Ave. • Marquette, Mich. • nmu.edu
Established in 1899, Northern Michigain University (NMU) has grown and diversified to become a comprehensive educational institution of 9,000 students, with cutting-edge technology initiatives and nationally recognized academic programs.
More than 75 percent of NMU’s 300-plus full-time faculty members have doctorates or the highest degree in their fields. A hallmark of the NMU experience is that full-time faculty members teach at all levels, freshmen through graduate courses.
NMU is the first public university in Michigan dedicated to enhancing students’ learning experience, through its Teaching, Learning and Communication Initiative. All full-time students are issued notebook computers as part of their tuition and fees, giving them faster, more complete access to instructors, fellow students – even class notes. President Barack Obama chose NMU as the site to announce his Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative in 2010. He held up Northern’s WiMAX network as a leading example of broadband’s capabilities.
Undergraduates have access to important research opportunities, from testing a new class of drugs that treat attention/memory problems caused by schizophrenia to researching genes that may play critical roles in brain tumor formation and growth. It is one of only two Michigan universities to have an entrepreneurship major, and has one of the few programs in the country for both ski management and wildland firefighting. NMU has programs in 42 of the 50 fastest-growing job occupations from the “Training for Michigan’s Hot Jobs” report, and boasts 90 percent placement rate or higher in numerous programs.
A recent survey revealed that 85 courses in 35 majors employed some aspect of academic service learning methodology. NMU earned the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. NMU students and staff volunteer more than 100,000 hours in the community each year and partner with local organizations through service learning courses.
NMU offers a number of student/faculty exchanges, faculty-led study abroad programs, semester- or yearlong study abroad through partner organizations and international volunteer/internship opportunities. NMU was among 16 U.S. institutions initially granted a license for study abroad programs in Cuba, and the first to go beyond Havana.
Students can explore financial aid opportunities, scholarships and funding options with knowledgable counselors at NMU’s Financial Aid Office. The university also provides accessible student support services, including free counseling and information services, a writing lab, a tutoring lab and an all-campus tutoring program in most areas of study.
NMU student-athletes compete in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference in 12 sports, six for men and seven for women. In addition, students can participate in about 325 student organizations representing a wide range of academic interests, hobbies, personal interests and causes. Further, NMU has the only residential program at a university that allows athletes to pursue degrees while training for world-class competitions.
At Northern Michigan University, natural curiosity and intellectual challenge meet in stimulating classes grounded in the liberal arts. Wherever curiosity leads them, students can count on the support they need to take the next step, ask the next question and propose the next hypothesis.
Western Illinois University
(Public/Four-Year) 1 University Circle • Macomb, Ill. • wiu.edu
Established in 1899, Western Illinois University (WIU) is committed to academic excellence.
With a population of about 20,000, the city of Macomb’s small-town atmosphere is free of distractions, allowing students to take full advantage of WIU’s supportive learning environment. Set on more than 1,000 acres, WIU’s campus supports an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 11,000. About 44 percent of the student body lives on campus.
Students can pursue 67 undergraduate degrees, 36 graduate degrees and two doctoral degrees, along with several professional and post-baccalaureate certifications. Some of its most popular programs are its most distinctive, with renowned opportunities in sports broadcasting, meteorology, forensic chemistry and law enforcement.
The average class size is 21, allowing students to take full advantage of WIU’s knowledgeable and committed faculty, 68 percent of whom hold terminal degrees in their fields. Full-time professors have an average tenure of 16 years.
WIU has been recognized as a “Best Midwestern College” by The Princeton Review; ranked among only 39 public universities as a top-tier “Best Regional University” by U.S. News & World Report; and designated a “Military Friendly School” by GI Jobs Magazine.
As part of the Summit League and the Missouri Valley Football Conference, the NCAA Division I school competes in 18 sports, nine for men and nine for women. In addition, there are nearly 250 student organizations, including national fraternities and sororities, athletics and intramural and club sports, academic honoraries, service clubs, specific interest clubs and more.
Students at WIU have the opportunity to study abroad, through group study options or exchange programs between the university and other international institutions.
In keeping with WIU’s core values of personal growth and social responsibility, students are provided with service learning opportunities such as tutoring at local elementary schools or participating in Habitat for Humanity. During the 2014-15 school year, student groups logged more than 13,000 volunteer hours and raised more than $70,000 for nonprofit and charitable organizations.
WIU also offers a cost guarantee, meaning that the rate paid when a student enters is fixed for each year of continuous enrollment, including fees and room and board. A number of scholarships are available as well. In-state tuition is provided to students from Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. WIU’s Student Employment, a division of financial aid, administers employment programs for approximately 2,300 students through Regular Employment and Federal Work-Study.
WIU: A cutting-edge, quality education provided by faculty at the top of their fields, pursued in state-of-art facilities with up-to-the-minute technology; personal growth through participation in student organizations; leadership growth through service learning opportunities; all offered in a quiet, small-town atmosphere.
University of Dubuque
(Private/Four-Year/Nonprofit) 2000 University Ave. • Dubuque, Iowa • dbq.edu
Since 1852, University of Dubuque has been providing students with an educational foundation for future success. With a seasoned faculty whose members average 10 to 20 years of experience, the university aids students in developing critical thinking abilities that serve them long after graduation.
Students can select from 40 programs that emphasize hands-on classroom learning reinforced with real-life experience. Small class sizes allow individual attention and guidance. In addition, the university’s Career Resources Center is dedicated to helping students explore their options and enter professional positions after graduation.
One element of distinction for the University of Dubuque is the formation of instruction through The Diamond Educational Model. This method of learning articulates the university’s mission to be one of the best small, private Christian colleges and universities. The Diamond Model begins with the university’s full awareness of the new demographic realities that shape 21st century higher education, including a high percentage of underprepared students, students working longer hours and higher debt loads. Four features of this model describe the university’s approach to excellence:
1. Holistic: The University of Dubuque intentionally designs and implements programming to promote learning in academics, community and character, stewardship and vocation.
2. Formational: The University extensively addresses both academic and co-curricular learning. Academic Affairs and Student Life work seamlessly together to enhance student growth, while faculty and staff are provided with opportunities for professional development.
3. Caringly Intrusive: The staff provides direct and candid communication about expectations.
4. Assessed: The University regularly gathers qualitative and quantitative data, and uses that information to continually improve programming.
In addition to academics, students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of Division II sports through the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC). Men’s sports are baseball, basketball, cheer and stunt, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, track and field, and wrestling; Women’s sports are basketball, cheer and stunt, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. Beyond athletics, there are more than 65 student organizations in fine and performing arts, Greek life, governance, departmental organizations and special-interest organizations.
Students also have the opportunity to participate in study abroad, service learning and work-study programs, all of which challenge students to embrace lifelong learning in and out of the classroom. The University’s Career Services works with each student in developing a comprehensive four-year checklist that, in their third year, identifies and incorporates field experiences and internships into their resume.
Although change is constant, University of Dubuque prepares students to thrive in the changing world.
(Private/Two-Year & Four-Year) 6000 E. State St. • Rockford • rasmussen.edu
Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college with 23 campuses across the Midwest and Florida, including four campuses in Illinois: Rockford, Romeoville/Joliet, Mokena/Tinley Park and Aurora/Naperville. More than 14,000 students are enrolled in total. Founded in 1900, with the Rockford campus opening in 2006, Rasmussen strives to: provide education for growing careers; impact lives both inside and outside the classroom; and remain dedicated to the growth and development of its students, employees and the communities it serves.
Rasmussen College offers bachelor’s degrees, associate’s degrees, certificates and diplomas in more than 50 programs, including business, justice studies, technology, design, education, nursing and health sciences. It’s committed to helping students gain the practical and relevant skills they need for career success, as well as providing flexible and affordable learning options. One example is Flex Choice, a learning option that allows students to take self-paced, competency-based courses alongside their faculty-led courses at no additional cost. Rasmussen College also provides a classroom experience that includes employer-based internship/externship opportunities, hands-on learning delivered through average class sizes of 20 students, industry-experienced faculty with real-world insight, and new, technologically advanced learning platforms.
Rasmussen College is committed to providing strong support services that go above and beyond traditional offerings. This includes one-on-one support with a student advisor, free tutoring, and access to hundreds of thousands of free digital resources, such as e-textbooks, scholarly articles and videos. Once students are ready to graduate, the college works closely to connect them with local employers that are hiring. A career services department is available to all students, and free career fairs for students and alumni are held twice a year.
As it prepares students for professional success, Rasmussen College instills in them the knowledge and skills they need to better their lives and have a profound influence in their communities. This is what defines Rasmussen College as a Public Benefit Corporation. The College focuses on connecting its students to local employers and expanding community initiatives through business partnerships, workforce insights and service opportunities for its employees. In 2014, Rasmussen College helped graduates fill more than 2,000 jobs in communities including Rockford, and its students have invested more than 10,000 hours of community service.
Upper Iowa University-Rockford
(Private/Four-Year/Nonprofit) 1161 Tebala Blvd. • Rockford • uiu.edu
Upper Iowa University-Blackhawk Center
(Private/Four-Year/Nonprofit) 6004 S. County Road G • Janesville • uiu.edu
Since 1857, Upper Iowa University has been preparing students to succeed – in the classroom and in the world. That rich history, coupled with a student-centered mission, has created a springboard for Upper Iowa University to become a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through multiple flexible delivery systems, including face-to-face, online and self-paced study.
The Upper Iowa University Center in Rockford, which opened in 2008, has a current enrollment of approximately 150 students. The 13,000-square-foot building includes eight classrooms and a cutting-edge computer lab. Courses, held primarily in the evening, are offered during six eight-week terms, and taught by instructors who bring practical work experience to the classroom.
Upper Iowa University opened the Blackhawk Center at Blackhawk Technical College, in Janesville, in 1994; it serves about 250 students. Courses here are also offered during six eight-week terms and held in the evening. Full-time Upper Iowa University faculty members teach many classes, as well as adjunct faculty who draw on their practical experiences in the field.
The Upper Iowa University Center for Distance Education offers online courses for associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as post-graduate certificates. Its online undergraduate bachelor’s program has been ranked among the “Best in the Midwest” by U.S. News & World Report, which also ranked its online MBA program among the top 100 for 2015.
Further, its online MBA has been recognized as a best value by GetEducated.com, and Upper Iowa University has been named a top military-friendly school by Military Advanced Education for the seventh consecutive year.
Upper Iowa University works with students to keep their college educations affordable. Students are encouraged to contact the financial aid department, where counselors will assist them in looking for any possible means of financial assistance.
Upper Iowa University offers 40 majors in all modalities; for a complete listing, visit uiu.edu. Some majors include:
• Business Administration
• Criminal Justice
• Health Services Administration
• Human Resources Management
• Human Services
Whether at its traditional campus in Fayette, Iowa, or one of its 20 educational centers in the U.S., students will find a professional faculty and staff that care about their success and work hard to provide the education they desire.
McHenry County College
(Public/Two-Year) 8900 U.S. Highway 14 • Crystal Lake • mchenry.edu
Since 1967, McHenry County College (MCC) has been the area’s choice for a high-quality and fully accredited education.
MCC was recently named among Aspen Institute’s top 150 community colleges in the nation, and CNN Money & College Measures reported that MCC is ranked fourth in the state for student success rates and affordability. MCC also was voted a “military friendly” institution by G.I. Jobs magazine.
More than 90 percent of MCC’s full-time faculty hold a master’s or doctorate degree, as do 68 percent of its adjunct instructors. But the heart of MCC is its students, whether they come to start a new educational path, finish a dream that was sidetracked or try something new. Faculty and staff are dedicated to assisting students to succeed, so that they are prepared to move into a new career or transition smoothly to a four-year institution.
This student-focused approach is paying off. According to recent statistics compiled by the Illinois Board of Higher Education for its Illinois Shared Enrollment and Graduation database, MCC students who transfer to a four-year institution do just as well as, or better than, students who started as freshmen.
As part of the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference, affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), MCC men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics teams have earned 34 conference championships and produced more than 20 NJCAA All-Americans and 10 professional players. In addition, MCC offers on-campus activities and more than 25 student clubs.
The honors group Phi Theta Kappa and the Leadership Education and Development (L.E.A.D.) program help MCC students to develop leadership skills. Through the College Consortium of International Students and the Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs, MCC students may participate in study-abroad programs in more than 30 countries. Through service learning, MCC students also learn about civic responsibility while participating in community programs.
From the low student-to-teacher ratio in classes to flexible course offerings, MCC’s focus is always on helping each student to complete his or her degree. The college’s engaging environment stimulates more critical thinking and sharpens decision-making skills, better preparing students for a bright future. Learn what’s new at MCC by following the college on social media at mchenry.edu/social.