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Score an Excellent Education in Cedar Rapids, IA

Region deserves high marks for its numerous academic options, from elementary to college.

By Kevin Litwin on January 23, 2023

Linn-Mar Community Schools in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Linn-Mar Community Schools

Several education choices are available to the youth living in the Cedar Rapids area, and once they graduate high school, they also have a pick of nearby higher education institutions they can attend. Here is a quick overview of the options for education in Cedar Rapids/Linn County:

K-12 Education in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids Community School District: With the second-largest enrollment in Iowa, Cedar Rapids Community School District serves residents of Cedar Rapids along with Hiawatha, Robins and Palo. The district operates 21 elementary schools, six middle schools, three high schools and one alternative high school. The district is among the most diverse in all of Iowa.

Linn-Mar Community School District: More than 7,500 students are enrolled in the Linn-Mar Community School District, which serves parts of Cedar Rapids, Marion, Robins and rural areas of Linn County. The district, formed in 1948, operates 12 schools, including one high school.

College Community School District: The College Community School District includes the communities of Ely, Fairfax, Shueyville, Swisher, Walford and the southwest side of Cedar Rapids. Serving 5,800 students, the Prairie campus is a source of community pride, consisting of five elementary schools, an intermediate school, middle school, high school, Early Childhood Center and three off-site programs.

Cedar Valley Montessori Schools in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cedar Valley Montessori Schools

Cedar Valley Montessori School: This montessori school was founded in 1971 by a group of Cedar Rapids parents seeking a high-quality preschool education for their children. CVMS started with 10 children, and enrollment today is more than 120 students.

Xavier High School: Founded in 1998 and affiliated with 12 area Catholic parishes, Xavier High School is the only Catholic high school in the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area. The campus in northeastern Cedar Rapids can accommodate 800 students.

Marion High School: The faculty at Marion High School strives to develop students who are independent thinkers and able to make informed decisions using reason, logic and a measured approach in everything they do. Along with the high school, the Marion Independent School District operates two elementary schools, one intermediate and one middle school.

Center Point-Urbana High School: Home of the Stormin’ Pointers, Center Point-Urbana High School serves students in the cities of Center Point in Linn County and Urbana in Benton County. The school is part of the Center Point-Urbana School District, which has 1,400+ students in grades Pre-K to 12. Center Point-Urbana High has about 700 students.

Higher Education in Cedar Rapids

Coe College: Cedar Rapids is home to Coe College, a liberal arts college founded in 1851 and affiliated with Presbyterian Church USA. Coe features 60 areas of study, with bachelor’s degrees awarded in the arts, music and nursing.

Cornell College: Located in the city of Mount Vernon in Linn County, Cornell College is unique because students only study one course at a time. Courses are taught in 3 1/2 weeks, with students covering a full semester of classwork in just 18 Cornell class days. Students then take another class for 3 1/2 weeks, and so on.

Kirkwood Community College: The main campus of Kirkwood Community College is in Cedar Rapids, with additional regional counties, including a Hiawatha campus in Linn County. The college has more than 120 different degree offerings. Kirkwood also offers dual credit opportunities for students at 47 high schools throughout Iowa.

Mount Mercy University: Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1928, Mount Mercy University is a Catholic liberal arts university in Cedar Rapids on a 40-acre campus. Mount Mercy has more than 40 undergraduate programs and seven graduate programs, and many academic offerings are available online.

The University of Iowa: Located in Iowa City, The University of Iowa is about a 30-minute drive south of Cedar Rapids. The University of Iowa has 12 colleges that offer more than 200 areas of study and seven professional degrees, and the university’s alumni network now exceeds 250,000 graduates.

Also in the State: Two other state universities, University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University, are within a 2 hour drive from the Cedar Rapids metro region. Both of these universities offer extensive degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

For article about schools in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Fostering BIG Ideas

About 150 junior and senior high school students are participating in an elective program called Iowa BIG, which encourages students to develop their innovative ideas under the guidance of experienced business professionals.

Students from Cedar Rapids Community School District, College Community and Alburnett Community Schools in rural Linn County are taking part in the program.

“Iowa BIG students work on real-world projects with local businesses, with each session lasting a few hours a couple times a week,” says Megan Matson, community development specialist with Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, which is overseeing the Iowa BIG initiative.

“It’s an innovative initiative, and I hope more students sign up for the program as the positive word continues to get out.”

Megan Matson, community development specialist

Matson says students choose to work on projects that interest them, and they are paired with business leaders who can guide them and help them grow their ideas.

“One of the projects in 2022 was called Feed Iowa First, which is a nonprofit that collects and distributes homegrown vegetables to people in underserved communities,” she says. “The students set up an excellent tracking system of where to get the vegetables and who should receive them. It was very interesting and successful.”

Matson says about 60 area companies are involved with Iowa BIG for the 2022-2023 school year, including St. Luke’s Hospital, KCRG-TV, Hawkeye Downs Speedway & Expo Center, Prospect Meadows and the Cedar Rapids Police Department.

“Students get involved with projects in a variety of ways. They might develop new marketing strategies, suggest designs, advance a company’s social media platform and so on,” she says.

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