The Vocational Individualized Training and Learning (VITAL) program is designed to help high school special education students succeed in a career and technical education program at Kirkwood Community College. Students receive individualized instruction aligned with student needs. While enrolled in VITAL, students officially remain secondary students, but take the Kirkwood curriculum and required courses in a career and technical education program. Credits earned while in VITAL will count towards Kirkwood degrees, diplomas or certificates appropriate to the program. VITAL students may select one of the Career Programs or Certificates from this list.

In addition to specific career and technical education training, students attend the VITAL resource class for academic support such as personal tutoring, testing accommodations, writing support, textbooks on CD, study skills instruction, note taking strategies and accommodations, and career, academic and personal counseling. 

To be successful in the career and technical education curriculum at Kirkwood, students must be self-directed, motivated and committed to their career goals. VITAL students are full-time Kirkwood students and take at least 12 credit hours per semester. 

 What does the program provide?

Students participating in VITAL are enrolled in career and technical education programs at Kirkwood. In addition, each VITAL student can receive the following individualized support:

  1. Tutoring
  2. Testing Accommodations
  3. Textbooks on CD
  4. Proofreading, editing and assistance with written assignments
  5. Study skills instruction
  6. Assistance with organization/time management
  7. Progress follow-up with instructors
  8. Note taking accommodations

Who is eligible?

Students referred to the VITAL program must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be enrolled in a high school special education program
  2. Be recommended by the IEP team
  3. Have completed all academic requirements, but still have unmet vocational needs

What are the expectations of program participants?

  1. Regular attendance in program classes as well as in the VITAL classroom
  2. Willingness to utilize support services as needed
  3. Satisfactory academic progress
  4. Participation in mid-year conference and spring staff-out meeting

When should students be referred?

  1. During their early high school years, the VITAL program should be discussed as an option for special education students who desire post-secondary career and technical education training.
  2. Because many programs fill up quickly, students who demonstrate the qualities needed to succeed in VITAL should be referred by their IEP team early in their senior year.

What is the enrollment process?

Once the IEP team makes the referral, the student must complete the following steps:

  1. Student applies for admission to Kirkwood.
  2. Student completes the online VITAL application.
  3. Student prints and completes a release form and returns it to the VITAL office.
  4. Student takes the placement test at a Kirkwood Test Center.
  5. Student attends career and technical education program conference at Kirkwood, if required.
  6. Student schedules an interview with VITAL staff. Call 319-398-7138 to schedule.
  7. Once all of the above steps are completed, student comes to Kirkwood's main campus to interview with VITAL staff.

Note: To participate in VITAL, students must be accepted into a specific Kirkwood career and technical program.


A VITAL IEP meeting is held at the local school in May. A new IEP is developed that details the educational program goals for the student.

Note: If the student withdraws early from VITAL or decides not to attend VITAL, an IEP team meeting must be held to determine options.

VITAL Orientation

A required VITAL orientation is held prior to the beginning of classes in August. 

Financial Aid

Students enrolled in VITAL are not eligible to receive federal financial aid. However, students may apply for and accept scholarships from private organizations, including the Kirkwood Foundation.