Nicolet College campus

Nicolet College a Finalist for National Bellwether Award


Nicolet College was named one of 10 national finalists for the prestigious Bellwether Award in the Instructional Programs and Services category.

The college earned the distinction for its innovative Nicolet MyWay initiative, which vastly adds to the flexibility students have regarding when and where they complete their college coursework.

“Many students juggle jobs and families and they need flexible classes and services if they are going to attend college,” said Kate Ferrel, executive vice president of Academic and Student Affairs.

“The Nicolet MyWay format provides exactly that. It combines online classes with flexible open labs where students receive one-on-one and small group instruction. In both cases, instructors and coaches are always there to help and support students so they can earn the college credential that will get them ahead in life.”

While variations of the Nicolet MyWay format has been around for decades in other parts of the country, Nicolet was the first technical college to bring it to Wisconsin when the Welding program adopted the format in January 2018.

Information Technology instituted Nicolet MyWay that fall followed by the Accounting and Administrative Professional programs for the Fall Term of 2019 and Business Management for the Spring Term of 2020. Other academic programs at the college are in the process of aligning their curriculum to the Nicolet MyWay format.

“The entire concept focuses around students attending college on their own terms,” Ferrel explained. “Students set their own schedules and progress through the coursework at their own pace, advancing through, and gaining mastery of, specific sets of employer-validated competencies.”

She noted the skills students learn are the same as before. Only now they learn the skills in a more student-friendly, personalized format.

“When students master one competency, they move on to the next,” Ferrel said. “What’s great is that if students already have some of the skills, they can get through those competencies pretty quickly. If they come across other competencies that are more challenging, they can take the time they need to master that skill set.”

When all competencies are met, students pass the class and ultimately earn a college credential.

An added benefit of the Nicolet MyWay format is that students can start classes at numerous times throughout the year, typically at the beginning of most months, instead of the traditional three times a year at the beginning of the Spring, Fall, and Summer terms.

For more information about Nicolet in general and Nicolet MyWay call the Welcome Center at (715) 365-4493, 1-800-544-3039, ext. 4493; TTY 1-800-947-3529 or 711 relay.

The Bellwether assembly, now in its 26th year, convenes annually as an independent national policy forum for key opinion leaders to work as a “think tank” in identifying critical issues facing the future of community colleges, and to recognize Bellwether Winners and Finalist as trend-setting institutions.

The Bellwether College Consortium is a group of colleges charged with addressing the critical issues facing community colleges through applicable research and the promotion and replication of best practices addressing workforce development, instructional programs and services, and planning governance and finance. The Bellwether Award is proudly sponsored by the Alamo Colleges District in San Antonio, Texas.