Lorain County Community College is collaborating as part of a national effort to devise and share new approaches to help more young people obtain a degree, certificate or credential.
Lorain County Community College is collaborating as part of a national effort to devise and share new approaches to help more young people obtain a degree, certificate or credential. LCCC is among a group of Ohio colleges sharing a $500,000 planning grant to launch the five-year project.
In addition to LCCC, the Ohio colleges include Sinclair Community College and Stark State College. They are among a group of schools from four states chosen for the Completion by Design project, which is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Ohio colleges were selected after a rigorous competition that was announced last October at the White House Summit on Community Colleges.
"Lorain County Community College has experienced a doubling of its enrollment since 2000, but this exciting initiative will help us do an even better job of making sure our students graduate with the skills they need to compete in today’s transformational job market," said LCCC President Dr. Roy A. Church. "Today’s jobs require higher skills and it’s imperative that students finish their college degrees. That way they will be prepared for the jobs that will grow Ohio’s economy. This program is about using a rigorous, data-driven approach to graduate more students and build hope for the future of our region and state."
Completion by Design aims to build on proven, existing practices already underway at these forward-thinking community colleges that are already working to address the needs of today’s students. They are doing this by focusing on new approaches to areas such as course scheduling, advising, and curriculum development.
Today, community colleges serve nearly 11 million students, and enrollment has surged as the recession caused many Americans to return for additional training and education. Community colleges also are evolving to serve today’s students, who often are older and work, full- or part-time to support families while attending school to obtain a degree or credential.
But too many students never finish. According to recent federal data, just 22 percent of first-time, full-time students in community college graduate in three years. For Hispanics and African-Americans, the rates are even worse, at 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
"Leading more students to completion is important for our students, our economy and our country," Church said. A report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts that, by 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require at least some postsecondary education. The report also shows that, without a dramatic change in course, the labor market will be short three million educated workers over the next eight years.
LCCC, Sinclair, and Stark State are all recognized leaders in student success reform. Individually, each college has already done remarkable work. Collectively, they will work over the next twelve months to develop a plan that will outline pathways encouraging an unprecedented number of students to complete degrees, certificates and workforce credentials. In addition, the plan will address such aspects as data sharing, best practices, and statewide policy development to encourage the completion of more students.
"We believe that the today’s students—particularly low-income students—need smarter, affordable postsecondary options that lead to high-quality outcomes," said Hilary Pennington, director of education, postsecondary success at the Gates Foundation. "Completion by Design aims to give them that, and we are excited to support the innovative work being conducted at Lorain County Community College."
For more information, visit www.gatesfoundation.org.