It’s no secret that four-year universities are struggling to increase graduation rates, but the situation is even more dire at the nation’s community colleges.
Community colleges enroll more than one-half of students in higher education in Texas. In order to sustain and grow the economic base of the state and safeguard the well-being of its residents, community colleges will have to educate even more students.
“We believe finishing what we start has value,” said Dr. Bill Holda, KC president. “With KC’s involvement in Achieving the Dream and other success initiatives, we want to improve student success, and graduation is one of those ways.”
Community colleges are well-positioned to accomplish this goal because of their geographic accessibility to populations across the state, the relatively low cost of tuition and the close relationship these institutions have with area businesses and industries to train and retain the workforce.
“We are persons who experience interruptions in our lives; we are not always able to finish the baccalaureate degree,” Holda said. “In a society which measure titles and credentials, providing students with a title/credential is more powerful. If a student says ‘I have 60 hours from KC’ or ‘I have an Associate of Arts Degree from Kilgore College’ – Which statement has more long-term value to a student?”
While two-year colleges serve higher percentages of underrepresented students, not all students attending a community college do so with the intention of earning a degree.
“To be able to say, ‘I am a graduate of Kilgore College’ has more value than ‘I attended Kilgore College,’” Holda said.
KC’s push for for students to graduate this semester is creating a head start in the Achieving the Dream initiative.
“At the moment, graduation rates don’t affect funding; however, 10 percent of the future state funding will be related to a variety of success points, of which achieving a degree or certificate will be worth some value,” Holda said.
One hundred and fifty students have currently applied for Fall graduation.
Students who are eligible to receive a degree or certificate must complete an application by midnight Oct. 1.
Fall graduates must have completed all required courses or be enrolled in their remaining classes to be eligible for graduation.
Applications must be completed online through Campus Connect. Students will receive a confirmation of their graduation status by KC Ranger email once the application has been processed and degree audits have been received by advisers.
Students eligible for multiple certificates do not need to complete an additional application.
Students missing the Oct. 1 deadline can apply during the late application period.
Any student applying between Oct. 2- Oct. 31 will be required to pay a $75 application fee and any student applying between Nov. 1- Nov. 30 will be required to pay a $150 application fee. No applications will be accepted after Nov. 30.
Fall graduation will be held 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, in Dodson Auditorium.
“I would like for more of our students to be able to complete their degrees more quickly; however, when 50 percent of our students are attending part-time and many work full-time jobs, it is difficult to get through as quickly,” Holda said. “I would like to see more participation in achieving completion successes with higher graduation rates.”