State of High Achievers

Northwest Iowa is committed to a strong educational core for all students. Kindergartners to college seniors are taught by some of the nation’s best and obtain a quality learning experience with endless opportunities to experience studies outside of the classroom.

 There are excellent public and private schools in the region, each of which offer its own unique distinctions. The high schools all participate in events sponsored by the Iowa High School Athletic Association and also carry a rich tradition in the area of fine arts. Our schools consistently have higher graduation rates than the national or even the state average.


 High School 4-Year 
Graduation Rate, Class of 2011
 Average ACT Scores
 Cherokee 85.3% 23.1
 Lyon 97.0% 23.2
 O'Brien 91.4% 22.7
 Osceola 97.2% 22.0
 Plymouth 95.2% 21.6
 Sioux 91.1% 23.1
 Iowa88.5%  22.2
 U.S. 73.9% 21.0

There are also a variety of higher learning institutions in Northwest Iowa to offer their services. Dordt College and Northwestern College have both been named as two of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News and World Report, while community colleges such as Northwest Iowa Community College offer programs ranging from accounting to nursing.

  • US. News & World Report's 2015 college lists honored Dordt College in Sioux Center with the highest ranking of any college in Iowa, fifth on the Best Regional Colleges List. Dordt College has been ranked for the last 23 years. This is the 12th time Dordt has been listed as a top 10 school.
  • Christian Universities Online named Northwestern College in Orange City among the nation's 50 Best Value Christian Colleges and Universities in December 2014.
  • CNN Money ranked Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon 7th among community colleges for Student Success in 2012. 

See the full list of area higher educational institutions here

The Iowa New Jobs Training Program provides employers, which are expanding their existing operations in Iowa or are locating a new operation to the State, with employee training. This training is customized to meet the employer's needs and is available through Iowa's community colleges.. 

In addition to the colleges in Northwest Iowa, there are several higher education options in nearby Sioux City, including: Briar Cliff UniversityMorningside College and Western Iowa Technical Community College. Across the border in Vermillion, South Dakota, the University of South Dakota offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate courses, and they have a law school and a medical school.

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