Preparing the Next Generation

From preschool to PhD, the region is rich with opportunities for learning and growth. Build your credentials and launch your next career—right here in central Illinois.

Bradley University
In addition to its nationally recognized academic programs, Bradley University offers a diverse range of student organizations, recreational opportunities and fun campus activities. Photo: Duane Zehr, Bradley University

Greater Peoria is home to highly respected schools, colleges and universities—all working to engage youth and prepare them for the challenges of a rapidly changing world. In addition, an abundance of opportunities exist for adult professionals seeking a midlife career change. Whether you’re training to become a technician or building skills to enter the growing healthcare field, you’ll find everything you need here at home.

From Lincoln to Chillicothe, central Illinois boasts top-notch school districts with world-class learning opportunities. Morton, Dunlap and Richwoods are among the top high schools in the country, while the Tremont and Washington districts have been ranked among the top five percent in Illinois for student performance. Dunlap School District 323 also features three top-scoring elementary schools, while Peoria Christian High School and Tremont Elementary School were named National Blue Ribbon Schools in 2018—among just 349 schools nationwide.

Peoria Public Schools is the region’s largest school district, offering the International Baccalaureate program, advanced placement courses, and real-world partnerships with the Peoria Riverfront Museum, Caterpillar Inc., Bradley University, Illinois Central College and other institutions. The Woodruff Career and Technical Center provides career and technical training, while Quest Charter Academy offers a STEM curriculum centered on math, science and technology skills.

The Align Peoria initiative brings the community together to align its resources in support of Peoria Public Schools, while Peoria Promise supports local economic development by helping qualified high school graduates complete a college or vocational program. In its first 10 years, Peoria Promise has delivered $4.2 million in scholarships to local recipients.

Several area schools offer Montessori education—a unique environment designed to teach children to think creatively—while a range of faith-based schools and private institutions like Peoria Academy offer first-class options. From Pekin’s acclaimed career and technical education program to the Dunlap Eagles Robotics Team to the Peoria Chinese Language School, opportunities for hands-on learning exist around every corner.

Illini Bluffs High School students were selected to present at the statewide Student Research Showcase, a celebration of student-mentor collaboration.

Founded in 1897, Bradley is a top-ranked private university offering 5,400 students the opportunities and resources of a larger university, with the personal attention and exceptional learning experiences of a smaller college. Bradley offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business, communications, education, engineering, fine arts, health sciences, liberal arts and sciences, and technology. It is located on an 85-acre campus in Peoria, with students from across the U.S. and 43 countries.

More than 185 majors and academic programs are available, including programs in entrepreneurship, game design, hospitality leadership, music and entertainment industry, sports communication and physical therapy. The graduate school offers 34 graduate, doctorate and certificate programs, including online advanced-degree programs in nursing and counseling.

Bradley students can develop their leadership skills in more than 240 student organizations, many of which are dedicated to leadership and community service. Bradley is home to the nation’s most successful speech program, as well as multiple fraternities and sororities, NCAA Division I athletics, and club and intramural sports. In addition, Bradley’s new $100 million Business and Engineering Complex is slated to open this fall, with additional construction continuing into 2020.

With 93 percent employed or pursuing other postgraduate experiences within six months of graduation, Bradley graduates are well prepared for their next step in life. Bradley offers an abundance of experiential learning opportunities—including internships, practicums, undergraduate research, community service and study abroad—and all graduates must complete at least two experiences.

Prominent college guides and rankings routinely list Bradley among the best universities in the nation:

  • U.S. News & World Report recognizes Bradley as one of the top universities in the Midwest. Its 2019 edition of “Best Colleges” places Bradley sixth in the region and ranks Bradley as a top-30 engineering school in the nation not offering a doctorate degree.
  • The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education recognizes Bradley among the top 15 schools in the U.S. for student engagement.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek ranks Bradley as the top private undergraduate business school in
  • Illinois.

The university’s more than 70,000 alumni worldwide include former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, L.A. Dodgers commentator Charley Steiner, Pulitzer Prize winner Renée C. Byer, Oscar winner Tami Lane and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly.

Illinois Central College
A leader in workforce development, Illinois Central College offers a range of real-world partnerships and hands-on training.

Since opening in 1967, Illinois Central College has changed more than half a million lives in a variety of ways. With three locations in East Peoria, Peoria and Pekin, ICC offers approximately 1,500 courses each semester. Students can choose from transfer programs that provide coursework for the first two years of a baccalaureate degree, as well as occupational and technical degrees and certificates.

ICC serves roughly 13,000 students and awards more than 1,800 degrees or certificates each year. It also offers an array of corporate and community education programs, as well as cultural programs through its Performing Arts Center.

In partnership with area employers, ICC is aligning its programs and services to fill skills gaps in the areas of manufacturing, information technology and healthcare. These programs provide a blend of in-class and hands-on training, leading to a credential and marketable, relevant job skills upon completion. And, students can do it all debt-free.

ICC students who transfer to four-year institutions continue to perform as well as—or better than—those who began there. Those who receive career and technical training are on their way to jobs with living wages, changing the trajectory of their lives and the future for their families. Whether to learn a new skill, advance one’s career, transfer to a four-year institution or just for the fun of it, students continue to make a smart choice in selecting ICC.

Eureka College
Eureka College initiates transformational growth in its students through learning and service opportunities.

Eureka College initiates transformational growth in its students through a diverse range of learning and service opportunities. Eureka graduates are educators, innovators, change-makers, community leaders… and even the 40th president of the United States, Ronald W. Reagan, Class of ‘32.

With an enrollment of nearly 700, Eureka College offers more than 30 different majors and a variety of minors and pre-professional programs. In a highly personalized setting, students may tailor their experience to their individual needs and interests. Rather than mandating content requirements, Eureka College focuses on instilling a set of 10 capabilities before graduation, including analytical inquiry and problem solving, ethical reasoning, scientific literacy and civic responsibility. Upon graduation, the job placement rate is 97 percent.

Under its “Uniquely Eureka Advantage” program, Eureka has committed to graduating students in four years (or the fifth year is free), a four-year tuition freeze, an experiential learning award to all new students, and opportunities to study abroad and participate in campus activities.
In addition, Peoria Promise and Illinois Central College have partnered with Eureka College to offer opportunities that strengthen the education-to-employment pipeline for area students. The “Uniquely Eureka Promise” offers qualifying transfer students the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree at no cost.

At Eureka College, being a college student is a hands-on experience, where the friendliness and comfort of a small campus community is coupled with the support and encouragement to take your learning outside the classroom—and hold the world in the palm of your hands.

Integral to the region’s standing as downstate Illinois’ healthcare hub is the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, part of one of the largest public medical schools in the nation. UICOMP offers high-quality physician education, recruits renowned doctors to the area, conducts extensive research and provides exceptional patient care.

UICOMP educates about 240 medical students and nearly 300 physician residents and fellows each year. Sixty percent of the area’s primary care providers have trained at the University of Illinois for medical school or in one of its physician training programs.

In addition, UICOMP leads cutting-edge research in cancer, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. It is a collaborator of Jump Simulation, a world-class simulation center and virtual hospital capable of replicating all areas of patient care, using actual medical equipment combined with state-of-the-art simulation technology.

Affiliated with UnityPoint Health, Methodist College offers a variety of certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing, healthcare and human services. Bradley University offers undergraduate, graduate, accelerated and online nursing programs, while the Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in nursing.

Greater Peoria is also home to numerous schools for technical training. Midwest Technical Institute in East Peoria provides training in health services, mechanical trades and transportation, while a number of area schools offer training in cosmetology, esthetics, barbering and more. PP

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