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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : features : latest news August 25, 2016

3/11/2014 10:14:00 AM
College America expands at new location
60-78 percent of students Native American
College America’s new location on South Malpais Lane in Flagstaff opens in April. The college’s student population is between 60-78 percent Native American. Katherine Locke/NHO
College America’s new location on South Malpais Lane in Flagstaff opens in April. The college’s student population is between 60-78 percent Native American. Katherine Locke/NHO

Katherine Locke
Associate Editor

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - College America moved from its old location on East Route 66 to its new location on South Malpais Lane, in the historic La Plaza Vieja neighborhood March 4.

The college will put on an open house for the community to look around and take a tour of the new building from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week of April 7-10.

The new building is a two-story structure. College America occupies the 13,000 square-foot second floor that houses 10 classrooms, five lecture halls, three medical labs and two computer labs, a career services center, learning resources center, student services office, staff lounge, a separate student lounge and a faculty workspace. This space is nearly twice the size of College America's old location.

The first floor has space available for lease to local businesses.

Suzanne Scales, executive director of the Flagstaff campus, said the move allowed the college to have more control over a building that was its own, to customize layout and provide a beautiful learning environment for its students.

"There's been a few times where we have almost outgrown this space," Scales said, referring to the old building. "There's a lot of room for growth [in the new building]. It was just time for us to have our own space and never have to move again."

According to a yearly report, College America has an average yearly enrollment of 60-78 percent Native American students.

"That makes us one of the top enrolling minority schools in the country, which is pretty amazing," Scales said.

The college offers associate and bachelor's degrees. Scales said the associate of occupational studies in medical specialties is by far their biggest program. The degree allows students to certify as lab technicians, medical assistants, insurance and coding specialists, front or back office administrative assistants and more.

"It gives them the gamut in one program and a lot of options," Scales said.

The school also offers associates degrees in computer technology and networking and business administration and bachelor's degrees in computer science and healthcare administration. In addition, the college is affiliated with Independence University, an online university where students can work toward a master's degree in various programs.

With Coconino Community College and Northern Arizona University close by, Scales said College America differs from those schools by offering a student-centered environment with classes averaging a 15 to 1 ratio of students to instructor. The college averages about 170 to 200 students enrolled at any given time, with day, afternoon and evening classes.

"The biggest thing that sets us apart is we really are a small school," Scales said. "For some people that just serves them better to have that individualized attention. All the instructors know the students' names. It's just a really small community within the career college sector."

College America has 20 locations in six states, some with a different name. The school is a non-profit under the Center for Excellence in Higher Education. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) accredits the school. Scales said because of that accreditation the college's biggest focus is on outcomes, meaning the graduation and employment rates for students who have attended the college.

"ACCSC does require a minimum for us of 67 percent employment of graduates right now," Scales said. "All of our programs that we reported on last year were over 70 percent. That's a pretty good rate for us. We have a goal of 85 percent placement of graduates, that is what we're always striving for."

College America was established in Flagstaff in 2001. It was formerly known as Northern Arizona College of Health Careers.

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