Amy Taft, of North Platte, puts in some study time at Mid-Plains Community College. Taft graduated from MPCC with two associate degrees and is now pursuing a bachelor's degree, thanks to MPCC's partnership with Chadron State College.
The beauty of it is - no one has to leave.
The end of the holidays means the start of a new semester at Mid-Plains Community College, and for many students, the homestretch toward achieving an associate degree, certificate or diploma.
While some will transition into the workforce following commencement in May, others will continue on in search of a higher education.
They won't have to move away to do that.
MPCC's partnerships with Chadron State College, Bellevue University and Fort Hays State University allow students to pursue a bachelor's, or even a master's degree, without ever stepping foot off a Mid-Plains campus.
Most classes are provided online or via distance learning. Others are available through self-study correspondence.
The partnering schools all have offices on MPCC campuses to better assist students in those locations. The CSC and Bellevue offices are on the South Campus in North Platte. Bellevue also has an office in McCook as does Fort Hays State.
"That's one of the biggest benefits to the partnerships," said Bobi Johnson, CSC program coordinator. "The program coordinators are accessible. Students can stop in any time they want, and we can help them enroll in classes or verify their classes are correct."
Amy Taft, of North Platte, prefers that one-on-one interaction as opposed to visiting with a CSC representative over the phone.
"I'm in my senior year of college, and have yet to go to Chadron," said Taft. "I probably won't until I walk across the stage to graduate, but my experience with the school has been positive."
Taft is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with a field endorsement in Mild/Moderate Disabilities (K-12) through CSC – something that wouldn't be possible for her without the Mid-Plains partnership.
"I have a family established in North Platte, so moving to Chadron is something I just can't do," said Taft. "I know there are a lot of other non-traditional students in the same boat. Having these types of partnerships provides a great opportunity for all of us to achieve that next level of education without ever leaving home."
Through Bellevue University, MPCC graduates can apply an associate degree or previous college credit toward earning a bachelor's degree in as little as 18 months thanks to an accelerated program. Those who already have a bachelor's degree can complete a master's degree in just 16 to 18 months.
"Bellevue University accepts all associate degrees from MPCC," said Stan Wudtke, MPCC relationship manager for Bellevue University. "They satisfy all the general education requirements for Bellevue. In addition, MPCC graduates can transfer in as many as 78 credits to Bellevue, leaving them with just 49 to complete their bachelor's degree."
Fort Hays State University also accepts credits from a MPCC associate degree. The university offers 40 degree programs through its FHSU Virtual College and grants Nebraska students a reduced tuition rate.
"FHSU has been on the cutting edge of online education for years, and has been nationally recognized for the quality of its programs," said Lorrie Mowry, MPCC's liaison for those interested in completing an education at FHSU. "They have many options for students, and the price is great."
More information about MPCC's partnerships with other schools and the various degree programs those schools offer can be found at mpcc.edu.