Indian Hills welcomes students for Junior Day

Students, counselors and parents make up the crowd gathered at Indian Hills for Warrior Wednesday.

For high school juniors, now is the time to start thinking about college, scheduling campus tours and applying for financial aid.

Wednesday, over 200 students, parents and guidance counselors from all around Iowa and beyond converged on the Indian Hills campus to see what opportunities the community college has to offer. Indian Hills now hosts "Warrior Wednesdays" every month, but Junior Day is the biggest event of the year.

"I think it's a good base for them to start off, especially if they want to go to a university," said Ryan Hodges, student advisor at Centerville High School. "We're a smaller school, so it helps any anxieties that might come up with the students that might go onto a four-year university and it just gives them another idea as juniors to look forward to their senior year, they still have a year there to many make a decision. It's a good thing for the students to come in and see what they want to do."

Each year's event attracts students from Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.

"We have students who are coming here from out of state and sometimes out of the country to see our campus because of the unique programs that we have here," said Mark Thompson, Executive Director of Enrollment at Indian Hills. "And we see over probably 200, maybe 300, students here today and they get to talk to students while they're on campus, not only instructors, but students, live students, that are in the clubs and organizations that have scholarships to give out to those students as well, because we know financial aid is important."

Speaking of financial aid, this year's Junior Day had added parent sessions for the moms and dads worrying about the cost of college.

"Some of the big questions are, are we eligible for grant money?" said Chris Bowser, Director of Enrollment at Indian Hills. "That's a big one and everybody wants to be eligible for the type of dollars that you don't have to pay back. Some of the other questions are, quite honestly, a lot of folks think they shouldn't apply because they feel like they don't qualify and that's one of the fears we want to erase from their minds right away. It's one of the urban legends we want to take away, because everyone qualifies for something. If you are an eligible student and you are enrolled in an academic program that's eligible to receive financial aid, at the very worst, you're eligible for some federal student loan, but there may be some other types of scholarships and grants that are out there that you won't know about unless you complete that federal form, the FAFSA."

Representatives from the Advanced Technology, Health Occupations and Athletic Training departments were able to show students the ins and outs of their programs. The 67 areas of concentration offered at Hills isn't the only thing that makes the school unique.

"We're a community college and we have a residence hall, we have a dorm, we have apartments, that's unique," Thompson said. "And we're here to show that off and this is one of the best days of the year that we have here."

Indian Hills does do private tours and meetings if the Warrior Wednesdays don't fit into your schedule. To arrange one, call 800-726-2585.