About Iowa Lakes

Start at here and go anywhere.

Located in one of the Midwest’s most dynamic and energetic regions, the Iowa Great Lakes, Iowa Lakes campuses may be found throughout a five-county area in Algona, IA, Emmetsburg, IA, Estherville, IA, Spencer, IA, and Spirit Lake, IA.

Ranked in the top twenty community colleges in the nation*, Iowa Lakes graduates are well prepared to continue to a four-year bachelor’s degree program or into a high-demand career with the knowledge, preparation, and skills needed to succeed.

Iowa Lakes focuses on lifelong learning opportunities by offering continuing education, vocational and re-licensure courses, and classes designed for personal development and career advancement.

Iowa Lakes offers students of all ages and life stages multiple options to continue their education. Financial aid is available to ensure college is affordable and support from our dedicated faculty and staff helps all students achieve their personal, academic, and professional goals.

*Iowa Lakes Community College is ranked #18 for the 2019 top community colleges in the country! More information at opens in a new windowLearn.org.

Message from the President

Valerie Newhouse

My journey to becoming president of Iowa Lakes Community College began as a student right here.

While I’m happily back where I started, my career tells a story that you can go anywhere you want.

Your journey can start here, too.

Iowa Lakes is the premier community college in Iowa, and we have the numbers to show you.

A student to faculty ratio of 14:1 means you have face time with your professors. Iowa Lakes’ success rate is 15% higher than the state average, with the graduation rates consistently above the state average. This proves our students perform in the classroom and beyond.   

Iowa Lakes is distinguished by our commitment to high-quality education and instruction. We lead in technology across all programs, specializing in multiple STEM-related fields. Students can enrich their classroom experience with off-campus learning experiences and internships.

We offer over 60 associate degrees, pre-professional and certificate programs on campuses in Algona, Emmetsburg, Estherville, Spencer, and Spirit Lake. Our programs leave you well-prepared and in-demand for your career or ready to transfer to a four-year college or university.

Why Iowa Lakes? College graduates earn more on average. With more and more careers requiring advanced education, exploring your options is more important today than ever before. Not only can your Iowa Lakes degree mean a better salary, it frequently leads to more opportunities and can have a significant impact on other areas of your life.

Whether your plans include transfer or you’re looking to prepare for a dream job, Iowa Lakes has the programs, faculty and staff, and support to help you launch your career.

I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you!

Valerie Newhouse

Iowa Lakes Mission

To provide opportunities for quality lifelong learning and promote economic development for our communities.


Extend opportunities for personal and professional growth that are responsive to the dynamic needs of the individual and society. 

  • Guarantee access to postsecondary education opportunities through an "open door" policy. 
  • Ensure all constituents have the opportunity and the support necessary to take advantage of the postsecondary education programs and services offered by the college. 
  • Provide appropriate personnel services.  

Lifelong Learning: 

Provide learner-centered activities that empower individuals to reach their potential and fulfill their personal and career goals. 

  • Enable students to complete the first two years of college work, including general education and pre-professional education, and upon completion to achieve successful transfer to four-year colleges and universities. 
  • Enable students to complete vocational and technical programs designed to prepare them for employment in occupations in a global society. 
  • Provide opportunities for individuals to continue learning throughout their lifetimes. 
  • Provide programs for high school completion and development of the academic foundation necessary for success in college. 
  • Enable eligible secondary students to participate in college courses for credit while still in high school. 
  • Provide vocational and technical training for persons not enrolled in high school and who have not completed high school.  

Economic Development: 

Support partnerships among business, communities, and labor groups that strengthen the economic health and quality of life for area residents. 

  • Deliver programs for in-service training and retraining for workers and to help employers maintain a competitive workforce. 
  • Promote economic development assistance to area businesses, industries, cities and counties in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies.  


Promote collaborations with communities that support access to college programs and services with sensitivity to diversity and equal opportunities for all. 

  • Promote among students an awareness of their responsibilities as citizens in our contemporary and dynamic society. 
  • Extend the scope of college resources through active partnerships with agencies in the service area. 
Iowa Lakes Quick Facts

Year Founded: 1965 
President: Valerie Newhouse
School Colors: Laker Blue & Laker Gold  
Mascot: Captain Jack  
Employees: 571 employees 
Top Graduating Programs 2019-20: Wind Energy & Turbine Technology, Accounting Specialist, Nursing, Veterinary Technician, Agriculture Production Technology  

Student DemographicsFemale: 55%  Male: 45% 
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1 
Graduation Rate: 47% 
First-Generation Students: 23% 
Average Age: 22
Residency: 81% Iowa, 17% Out-of-State, 2% International