Can state schools boost grad rates?
Georgia legislation looks to do just that
The Complete College Georgia initiative (CCG), part of the Complete College America Alliance of States, aims to increase the national graduate rate to 60 percent over the next eight years.
“The types of changes students might expect to see (through the GC Campus Completion Plan) would simply be continued improvements in teaching and learning, programming, student support services and facilities as we strive to carry out our mission more effectively,” Tom Ormond, assistant provost for the Office of Academic Affairs, said.
“The data and research that led to the Complete College of America plan indicated a strong need for greater numbers of highly prepared graduates in the American workforce. In addition, data showed that the United States is increasingly falling behind other developed nations.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 60 percent of the new jobs in America created over the next decade will require a college degree. Currently, only 34 percent of young adults in Georgia earn a degree, which means that many will be unemployed without drastic reforms.
Research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) indicated that across the 14 countries composing the OECD, graduation rates doubled from 1995 to 2007. Conversely, the U.S., ranked second in the percent of college graduates in 1995, tumbled to last place in the graduation rankings of the countries in the OECD by 2007.
“In the state of Georgia, the initiative is to add 250,000 post-secondary graduates by 2020,”Ormond said. Georgia College’s Campus Completion Plan will contribute by increasing retention rates by three percent and graduation rates by seven percent to reach a 55 percent graduation rate in 2020.
The state initiative delineated increasing retention rates through collaborations between colleges and K-12 schools as well as amending curriculum to best meet student needs. Currently, GC helps K-12 students prepare for college through “a number of existing partnerships with local schools that couple the expertise of Georgia College, school districts, and the local community,” Jason Huffman, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Office of Academic Affairs, said. “These programs and others like it combine the talents within GC and the surrounding K-12 communities to enhance college readiness.”
GC helps its students graduate by practicing centralized advising and by encouraging the use of the academic planner tool in degree works to monitor their progress in completing curriculum requirements. The CCG requires universities to critique curriculum and amend as necessary to satisfy the needs of student populations, other than freshman, as well.
“The Georgia College Completion Plan includes strategies to address meeting the academic needs of students such as adult learners who are working professional,” Huffman said, adding that Georgia College will do so by “exploring optimal course schedules and delivery methods”.
Students currently enrolled at Georgia College express apprehension regarding where the importance of their concerns and needs will rank in GC’s Campus Completion Plan.
“While I think it is important to boost enrollment, how do they plan to help the students who are already at Georgia College?” Devyn Pondisco, junior history major, said. “Will we be pushed to the side in order to accommodate the newer generations?”
Prior to the adoption of the CCG initiative, the Office of Academic Affairs dedicated resources to benefit students enrolled at GC by providing students with opportunities to actively engage in their education through internships, civic engagement, undergraduate research, service learning and problem-based learning, as well as innovative teaching methodology that integrates technology into its delivery.
“GC invested over $100,000 to renovate space in the Library and Information Technology Center to create a 100-seat teaching laboratory designed to meet the needs of the (redesigned MATH 1111) course.” Huffman said. As of fall 2011, MATH 1111 has been held in the renovated space.