Graduation

Graduation rates, policies, and caps - oh my! This section covers all topics related to community college graduations. How does state spending impact graduation rates? Who are the oldest community college graduates? What initiatives are in place to stem the rate of dropouts? Find the answers to these questions and more.
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The term “dropout factories” was originally created to label high schools in the U.S. with dismally low graduation rates. However, the phrase has now moved into the community college sphere, as statistics indicate some community colleges are not living up to the task of helping students see their degree programs through to completion. The good news is that in the midst of the dropout factories, there are plenty of schools improving students’ odds for success through effective programs and services. It is up to students to weed through the data to choose the college that offers the best odds of success.

The Definition of a “Dropout Factory”
 
There is no single definition of a dropout factory when referring to community colleges – it depends in part on individual perceptions of what constitutes a low completion rate. A report at CNN Money defines dropout factories as schools with a completion rate of 25 percent or less, a number established by College Measures president Mark Schneider. The completion rate refers to the number of freshmen who enter the school full-time and earn a degree within three years.
 
Another source, the Center for the Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University, defines dropout factories at both the high school and community college level as those with graduation rates of 60 percent or less. According to Arizona’s State Brief blog, every single community college in Arizona would be classified as a dropout factory by this standard. However, two of the state’s . . . read more

Few would argue that community college completion rates in this country are currently in the dismal range, but not all would agree on how to bring those rates up to par. One somewhat controversial initiative is striving to increase college graduation rates by placing focus in a whole new area – the rate of unplanned pregnancies among community college students. To that end, the American Association of Community Colleges has launched a national campaign to reduce unplanned pregnancy in hopes of increasing the number of students who finish a community college program.

“Make it Personal” Gathers Support
 
The new “Make it Personal: College Completion” campaign was initiated by the American Association of Community Colleges with financial support from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. According to USA Today, the campaign material makes its point through “edgy material” designed to speak directly to today’s community college student. The goal of the program is to encourage community college students to “make smart decisions about sex and relationships.” This particular project is geared toward young adults and strives to be non-political by avoiding controversial subjects like abortion.
 
According to a report at Inside Higher Ed, the campaign originally launched in 2010 and includes a twofold approach to educate college students about pregnancy planning. The first approach assists colleges with the incorporation of pregnancy planning into regular college curriculum, through classes like biology, business management and communication. To date, five colleges have received grants of as much as $20,000 . . . read more

Community colleges have traditionally been a means for the budget-conscious to pursue a higher education and a well-paying job after graduation. However, if the student does not end up finishing his degree or certificate program, he gains little more than excessive debt - and no credentials to get the job he needs to pay off his school loans. In the state of Illinois, the number of community college students who find themselves in this position is alarmingly high – so much so that the lieutenant governor of the state, Sheila Simon, wants to write new legislation to significantly improve community college graduation rates over the next decade.

Focus on the Finish
 
The new report released by Simon’s office, titled, “Focus on the Finish,” provides statistics on current graduation rates at Illinois community colleges, as well as recommendations to improve those numbers. Nearly one million students enroll in Illinois community colleges every year. According to Lt. Governor Simon’s website, the report shows that four out five recent high school graduates in Illinois who attend community college do not earn their degree or certificate within three years.   
 
“We’re doing a good job of getting all types of students into the doors of community colleges,” Simon stated on her website. “But now we need to do a better job of moving them across the stage at graduation with a certificate or degree that leads to a good-paying job here in Illinois.”
 
Simon explains that there are currently 142,000 jobs . . . read more

Community colleges have been touted as the economic future of this country, as hosts of high school graduates, displaced workers and others look to these institutions of higher education. The Obama Administration has put the focus on community colleges as well, seeing these schools as essential instruments in raising the college graduation across the country over the next decade. However, a new study brings up some familiar concerns regarding these two-year programs; namely, the low completion rates that seem to plague the majority of community colleges nationwide. In fact, the study puts a price tag on the cost of community college dropouts – and it is a steep number indeed.

“The Hidden Costs of Community Colleges”
 
The recent study, titled, “The Hidden Costs of Community Colleges,” was released by the American Institutes for Research. The study, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, looked at full-time, first-year community college students who did not return for their second year of school. Five academic years were analyzed in the study, between 2004 and 2009. The purpose of the study was not only to put a price on the high dropout rate, but also to improve outcomes and performance at institutions across the country, according to a press release published at the American Institutes for Research website.
 
According to a report at the Los Angeles Times, the study showed that about one-fifth of full-time community college students who enroll in school do not make it to their . . . read more

With a current administration pushing community college graduations and mostly bleak data regarding completion rates at both two and four-year institutions nationwide, there is a bright spot to celebrate. A recent report released by the American Association of Community Colleges shows that completion rates at community colleges are increasing across the country, particularly with students of color. This particular study shows that many schools across the country may be on the right track after all, although community college officials stress that there is still plenty of work to be done in regards to college completion.

The Road Ahead: Completion and Transfer Rates
 
The report, titled, “The Road Ahead: A Look at Trends in the Educational Attainment of Community College Students,” takes a look at the attainment of different types of college credentials over the past 20 years, according to a press release at PR Newswire. The report also looked at the degrees earned vs. the increasing rates of enrollment to determine if the higher demand for community college in recent years is actually translating to a workforce that is better prepared to meet the demands of a global market.
 
The report found that over the past two decades, the increase in completion rates has been double the percentage rate of enrollment at community colleges across the country. Between 1989 and 2010, the number of students earning credentials increased by 127%, while enrollment during the same time frame increased by 65%. The numbers are even more significant for students of . . . read more
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