Prairie State College is a two-year community college in Chicago Heights, Illinois. First founded in a church basement as Bloom Township Junior College in 1957, the school grew enormously over the decades, adding vocational and technical facilities in the 70’s, The Community Education Center and Matteson Area Center in the 90’s, and The Health and Technology Center, Fitness Complex, Children’s Learning Center, and Adult Training and Outreach Center in more recent years.
The college was the first in Illinois to guarantee that credits earned can be transferred to four-year colleges and universities, ensuring efficient degree completion for students who wish to earn a bachelor’s or other four-year degree. Today many students take advantage of this program to transfer to University of Illinois, Illinois State University, and other four-year schools in the area.
Academic courses of study include associate’s degrees and professional certificates in nearly a hundred different areas of study. Classes are available during evenings and weekends as well as online to meet the needs of students with significant responsibilities outside of the classroom. With a student to faculty ratio of 17:1, it is relatively easy to take small, intimate classes and work closely with faculty.
Degrees offered include Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Applied Science, Associate in Fine Arts, Associate of Arts in Teaching, and Associate in General Studies. Particularly popular courses of study include business and organizational management, performing arts, health services, human services, and information technology.
The school also offers an array of professional and technical training and non-degree courses. In addition, Prairie State College has led the state in developing initiatives to facilitate transfers to four-year colleges and other institutions.
Full academic accreditation is granted by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Most Popular Fields of Study
The admissions process is open and designed to foster the matriculation of all prospective applicants. After completing the school’s standard application form, applicants will be asked to undergo a round of placement tests designed to assess current skill letters and to guide placement in the correct classes. As part of the admissions process, students must furnish proof of high school graduation or completion of a GED equivalency exam.
As part of its mission to extend college-level opportunities to as many students as possible, PSC offers applicants a full state of financial aid opportunities designed to offset tuition, fees, and other costs of attendance.
In order to be eligible for financial aid, students must furnish proof of high school graduation or GED equivalency. Proof of citizenship or legal residence in the United States is also a key financial aid requirement.
The financial aid process begins with completion of the standard FAFSA form, as well as all applicable supporting documentation. Although the school uses rolling deadlines, representatives suggest submitting materials as early as possible to receive full consideration.
Common sources of financial aid include the federal Pell Grant, the federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Illinois Monetary Award Program, the Illinois Incentive for Access, grants for Dependents of Police/Fire/Correction Officers, the Arthur F. Quern Information Technology (IT) Grant Program, grants for Illinois Veterans and National Guard Members, the Bonus Incentive Grant Program, work-study jobs, Stafford loans, and unsubsidized student loans.
Student Financial Aid Details
The student body is diverse, drawn from a broad swath of surrounding communities and other states and countries. A large majority of students attend full-time, and nearly 40% choose non-traditional programs such as weekend or night classes. The average student age of 29 reflects the fact that the student body includes both recent high school graduates, as well as returning adults and other non-traditional students.
Student Leadership and Activities
The Student Leadership Center on campus allows student clubs and activities to organize themselves, hold meetings, and otherwise hold business. Common student activities include the Art Club, cultural groups, anime club, chess and debate club, sustainability club, student veteran club, pre-professional organizations, honor societies, and service organizations.
Students have use of the Fitness Center, located in the Technology Wing of the main building. Personalized programs are available through the center staff. Lectures, personal trainers, and physical education classes are all also available at the Fitness Center.
Student Enrollment Demographics
The Prairie State College Pioneers participate in the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference within Region IV of the National Junior College Athletic Association. The athletic department fields teams in men’s soccer, cross country, golf, basketball, and tennis, and women’s volleyball, cross country, tennis, golf, basketball, and softball.
Notable alumni include:
- Dr. Terri L. Winfree, current president of the college
- Kathleen Austin, Human Services Provider for the Chicago Guild for the Blind
- Andrew DiCosmo, owner of PC Ingenuity, Inc.
- Michael Hopkins, attorney with Sepsia, Ayers, and Ardaugh
- Yesenia Avalos, assistant dean of development at Daley College
- Kathryn Humecki, owner, Kathryn Humecki & Associaties, Ltd.
- Roxane Geraci-Militello Director of Communications for the Will County Executive’s Office
- Mario Planera partner, DeTella Plannera Architects
- Marlene Gallagher, artist
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.