NORMAL — This year, for the first time, signing up for adult education at Heartland Community College can be as simple as finding the Bloomington Public Library Bookmobile.
Kerry Urquizo, associate dean of adult education at Heartland, said the idea to go out with the bookmobile came from the department’s longstanding relationship with the library. That includes holding high school equivalency classes at the library for adult students.
“The state really charged us with finding new and creative ways to recruit students,” Urquizo said.
The college offers three different types of adult education programs: English as a second language, academic English, and high school equivalency. Along with providing them skills, Heartland also helps students transition from these courses into either employment or further education, often at the college.
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Most years around 600 people go through the adult education programs, Urquizo said, but that number was closer to 450 last year during the pandemic. This year they plan to offer online, in-person and hybrid classes, something Urquizo believes is helping increase interest.
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“We’re seeing a big influx of students because we offer these options,” she said.
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The department saw a recent success story when it hired a new administrative assistant who had gone through the program, Urquizo said.
Along with Heartland’s campus programs, they also have off-site courses, including English as a second language at Western Avenue Community Center and the high school equivalency program at the public library.
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Urquizo encourages those who are interested to check the Heartland website, do the adult ed orientation at sites.google.com/view/adulteducationorientation or call the office at (309) 268-8180.
Khrystyna Sanborn, assistant director of adult education instruction at Heartland, went with the bookmobile to Wingover Apartments on Thursday. Interest has been strong so far, she said, as students have been coming back to these programs after the height of the pandemic last year. The pandemic also forced the department to accelerate plans for offering online courses, which seems to have helped bring in even more students, Sanborn said.
“We realized that we can give students choices,” she said.