Receiving a post-secondary education should not be impossible to accomplish, the Neosho County Community College president said Friday at First Friday Forum at NCCC, 900 E. Logan St., Ottawa.

Brian Inbody, NCCC president, said breaking down barriers to attaining a post-secondary education is a top priority for NCCC. He said those barriers include money, time and academic preparation.

“What is the value of a college education?” he asked. “Are you college-bound or non-college bound? I want to change that because the value of a high school education on its own has deteriorated the past 50-60 years. People should think about some kind of post-secondary education. Whether they are getting a bachelor’s degree or a certificate in welding or something along that line, so they have more skills to sell.”

He said those receiving a post-secondary education make more money and live longer. Inbody said a person with some college education has a much better chance of having and keeping a job.

“People with a college degree typically make more money, have health insurance and take care of themselves,” he said.

He said even those without a high school diploma can attend NCCC. He said NCCC runs one of the largest high schools in the state with its General Equivalency Diploma program in Ottawa and throughout the southeast part of Kansas.

“We educate quite a few people to get their GED,” he said. “We have people who are illiterate in their 30s and 40s that come to us. We help those folks learn how to read and work on their GED. We are here for all levels of education.”

Access to community colleges is easier than ever, Inbody said. He added the college doesn’t require an ACT score or a minimum grade point average from high school.

“We will take people who have not graduated from high school,” he said. “A heartbeat is about all you need to start. We can work with anyone. We take all comers.

“We had a lot of people who have not had a class for 15 years. We need to get them up to speed. We have developmental education. That helps them with whatever level they come in at. NCCC is in the top 15 percent in the nation for pass rate on both developmental and first college level course.”

A big barrier to overcome is the cost. Inbody said the community college costs are a lot less than public or private institutions.

“There is a way for people to go to college without it being so expensive,” Inbody said. “Most of our students don’t take out loans.”

Inbody said they have classes that will fit anybody’s schedule.

“Whatever time you want to have class, we have a class available for you,” he said. “We have creative scheduling. We are the 7 Eleven of education. We never close. We had classes running over Christmas break. We have classes that are six, eight and 12 weeks. We do summer, interterm classes and year-round classes. We never stop. We have locations everywhere: Chanute, Ottawa LaHarpe, Yates Center, Pittsburg, Garnett and online. We had a nursing student complete her degree from Afghanistan.”

Inbody mentioned other perks of going to a smaller community college such as free academic tutoring and academic warnings for those that are failing.

“We take a personal interest in every student that comes here,” he said.