Molly Kreyssler and Judith George are recruiting college candidates from some unconventional places. The two North Idaho College staff members hit a tattoo parlor and then Coeur d’Alene Skate Park and finally a bakery earlier this week.
“When we recruit, we figure out where there are pockets of people who might be able to benefit from the program, even if that takes us to places you wouldn’t normally see a recruiter,” said Judith George, adviser/data analyst for NIC’s Idaho Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program.
I-BEST operates under a two-year, $521,000 grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. The foundation gave $4.6 million in grants to six colleges in Idaho after a national report pegged the state as dead last in the number of first-time freshmen who return their second year of college. Retention, GED certificate completion and job placement are all priorities for both NIC’s I-BEST and the foundation.
The program was piloted in the 2010-2011 academic year and expanded this year to include four programs: welding, machine technology, certified nursing assistant (CNA) and office specialist.
There is no typical I-BEST student—some are displaced workers, some were homeschooled, some just didn’t apply themselves the first go-round. Their common ground is that they did not graduate from high school for whatever reason. Through the I-BEST program, every student is paired with a GED adviser to guide them through the entire process, even attending some classes with them if that’s what it takes.
“They are usually people who didn’t have a good school experience, so we want them to feel confident and capable,” George said. “We teach them how to go to college.”
Students in the program are on track to earn their GED after only one semester. With a GED in hand, students are eligible for various financial aid sources. Kreyssler said the college assists with finding ways to pay for the program.
“Just get enrolled and we’ll figure that out for you,” Kreyssler said. “There are all kinds of funding sources out there.”
The programs are all designed to make the students attractive to potential employers. Getting people’s lives back on track armed with a GED is what I-BEST is all about, according to George.
“It’s such a good feeling to find a student who is so excited about the process and looking forward to the future,” George said. “What’s better than that?”
An information night/open house for the I-BEST program is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, July 25 in the Hedlund Building Room 233 on NIC’s campus. Staff and instructors will provide an overview of the program, give tours of the classrooms and answer questions. The event is free and open to the public.
Information: Kreyssler at (208) 665-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org or George at (208) 769-3313 or email@example.com.
North Idaho College Idaho Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) Adviser/Data Analyst Judith George (left) counsels Chealsie Roberts and Victor Barbierri (seated) along with NIC I-BEST Coordinator Molly Kreyssler (standing right) at the NIC ABE/GED Center.