International College Makes U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Index

International College ranks third in the nation among colleges and universities with the highest percentage of students age 25 and older. International College is the only higher learning institution in the state of Florida to make the list.

The U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Index is used by thousands of prospective students and their families as a tool in selecting a college or university to attend.

In order to be included in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, a college or university must be accredited and have a total enrollment of at least 200 students. Colleges and universities are ranked for quality and best value and then broken out into rankings by a number of various topics.

George Kirkpatrick, Jr. Executive Director of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) said the recognition sends a strong message about the changing face of adult learners in Florida’s higher learning institutions.

“ICUF is extremely proud that U.S News and World Report has recognized International College’s ability to respond to the tremendous needs of nontraditional students here in Florida. Finding ways to serve these important constituents is a major challenge for an educational environment that has so totally focused on the 18 to 20-year-old traditional student in the past,” Kirkpatrick said. “As we move further into the 21st century, we will have an even greater responsibility to help our citizens deal with the tremendous impact technology has had on all sectors of our economy. ICUF will continue to work with all of our institutions to reinforce the excellent solutions developed by International College.”

More and more adults are continuing to pursue degrees, according to a study by the Education Resource Institute and The Institute for Higher Education Policy. The percentage of students age 40 and older who enrolled in colleges increased by 235 percent from 1970 to 1993.

Of the more than 3 million students enrolled in private colleges and universities in the United States in 1999 – the most recent figures available – 40 percent were 25 years of age and older, according to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

International College, founded in 1990, is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers associate, bachelor and master degree programs among 13 fields of study in business, law, healthcare, computer information technology and criminal justice.

At International College, class schedules, academic programs and delivery methods are designed for the working adult. Classes are held at night, on weekends, during the day and online. The average age of the 1,267 students currently enrolled at International College is 32.

International College President Terry McMahan said he is enthusiastic about the recognition.

“I was surprised we ranked that high, but it wasn’t a total surprise that we were included among those schools since our niche is the adult learner,” McMahan said.

The ranking impressed student Jamie French, 32, a junior and management major.

“Getting in the U.S. News & World Report just reassures me that I made the right decision to come here,” said the Naples resident and single father of three children.

French moved from Tallahassee to Naples last year for the sole purpose of earning a degree at International College. French said he wanted to go to a school where he could earn his degree in a reasonable amount of time while juggle a full-time job and raising a family.

“If you have the desire and will to make the commitment, it’s the best investment you’ll ever make,” he said, adding he has maintained a 4.0 GPA. French also plans on pursuing a master’s degree at International College.

Clint Perryman, 42, of Naples, credits International College for helping him get on track toward pursing a lifelong dream of attending law school. He is a legal studies major at the College.

“International College has an outstanding legal program. The motivating factor for me was the opportunity of having the accelerated program to complete my bachelor’s degree in a short amount of time,” he said, adding he is scheduled to graduate in December 2003. “I think it’s wonderful that International College was recognized because it puts an emphasis on the adult learner who has not yet mastered that final leg of academia and helps them complete that journey.
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