By: Michele Thornal

Paving the Way to Community College Completion and Beyond

No longer a last resort, more students are choosing community colleges as their first choice to pursue a postsecondary credential. Affordability, convenience, workforce training and transfer opportunities have changed the game. However, many students who choose this route never complete a certificate or degree.

With an influx of enrollment, understaffed advising departments are hard pressed to provide the level of comprehensive guidance these students need. Without the benefit of individualized and timely advice, they often end up registering for courses that do not apply to their program of study or will not count for meaningful transfer credit. Quite a few end up giving up and dropping out in frustration.

Policies and reforms are being put into place with the purpose of easing the administrative burden that comes with limited resources and an escalating workload. Subsequently a growing number of institutions are adopting the approach to develop and implement guided pathways, frequently in the form of articulation agreements. The intention is to promote student self-service and free-up advisors from the minutiae of course planning and registration.

How can we maximize these efforts to make sure they effectually improve persistence and graduation at the community college level and stem the loss of credits in the transfer process?

Both Delaware County Community College and Montgomery County Community College have chosen to implement a transfer degree audit tool and automate the advising process. Articulation agreements are populated within the software, making them easy to find and follow. Progress checklists help students see exactly where they stand with the credit already earned and take the guesswork out of how it will transfer. Ultimately, the use of intuitive technology improves the rate of student success at both colleges. Their advisors can make appointments more productive and focus on preparing students for jobs and career while completing a degree, as well as help them develop strong long-term academic plans.

For more information...