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NorthWest Arkansas Community College is Essential to Strengthening NWA Economy
NWACC Construction Tech Alumni Jonathan Janacek
Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the health of millions of Americans continue to be at risk and many businesses are not able to open at capacity and struggling to survive, leaving workers unemployed or furloughed, and the U.S. in an economic recession.
Community colleges like NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) have a history of responding during times of economic crisis and being the backbone to recovery, reminding us why investments and policies that support higher education institutions are essential. Due to NWACC's size, accessibility, affordability and flexibility, the college has been able to quickly service the needs of the Northwest Arkansas community by offering safe class options that equip workers with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance their careers or land in-demand jobs, and in turn, providing businesses with a pipeline of talent.
Why NWACC is Essential to the NWA Economy:
Responsive to Community Needs
Due to its small size and access to community, business and government leaders, NWACC
has been able to shift and adapt quickly, whether it’s to offer new in-demand academic programs and career training, or swiftly accommodate students and offer different modes of instruction during
a pandemic. While lives remain disrupted, NWACC offers individual attention and a
variety of class options, all to fit fluid life circumstances and prepare students for the local job market.
Many of the health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic – paramedics, nurses and respiratory therapists – who are proving to be one of the greatest defenses against disease, are NWACC alumni. The college’s health profession programs are highly ranked and its most well-known, the nursing program, has an overall high NCLEX-RN pass rate and boasts a 100% employment placement for graduates, filling NWA’s demand for health care workers.
For those career professionals experiencing lay-offs or unemployment and needing to
upskill or make a move into in-demand careers, NWACC's Workforce Division offers short-term professional development courses and industry recognized certifications
in areas such as computers and technology, project management, workplace safety, communications
and others. Life-changing certifications only take months to obtain, helping professionals
get back into the workforce quickly.
Affordable Pathway to a Degree
For those interested in pursuing in-demand careers that require a degree but not interested in accumulating a lot of student debt, NWACC offers associate degrees at a modest cost and many can be transferred to a four-year institution. NWACC has signed memorandum of understandings (MOUs) with Arkansas institutions as well as out-of-state, online and international institutions, allowing students to pursue a bachelor’s degree without experiencing a financial hindrance.
NWACC also offers numerous opportunities for students to qualify for financial aid such as scholarships and grants. And affordability doesn’t mean low quality. NWACC’s
academic standards are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and its instructors are proven experts in their fields.
Inclusivity & Equity
The mission of community colleges like NWACC is to serve community members – no matter one’s socioeconomic status, race, age, gender, etc. – by providing equal access to higher education. They were built to democratize higher education. NWACC enables its mission with various standards and programs. The college is an open-access institution, so those who may not have the best high school GPAs or test scores are offered a pathway to college through remedial courses. Such courses are designed to assist students in achieving competencies in core academic skills so they are better prepared for college-level courses. Offering various pathways for all student types opens up the opportunity for many to attend college and increase their earning potential.
One of NWACC’s programs in particular, LIFE (Learning, Improvement, Fun and Empowerment), has been recognized for its innovative
approach to nurturing student success, particularly for the Hispanic and Marshallese
populations. LIFE is a near-peer mentoring program designed to connect minority and
underserved high school students with NWACC mentors. Mentors are first-generation
college students who can offer insight on the admissions process and college life,
all while forging bonds with prospective students and driving home that college is
Support Community Colleges
To provide communities with an educated and skilled workforce, there is no better
investment than in local community colleges. Contact your local, state and federally-elected
officials (and candidates) to voice your support for community colleges and to understand
where officials stand on higher education, supporting their local institutions, and
providing everyone equal access to education and career training.
Learn more about NWACC and its many programs and courses by visiting www.nwacc.edu.