Increasing Part-Time Graduates through Focused Degree Planning

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Sinclair Community College is one of the largest community colleges in America with enrollment of 32,000 students. Part-time students represent approximately two-thirds of the student body. Removing Unnecessary Credits To improve outcomes and reduce time to completion, officials are focused on reducing the number of credits that don’t count toward graduation. In fact, Sinclair has reduced number of credits required by an average of 5 credits per program in over half of their programs, which is saving students time to degree completion by a full semester in some programs. By providing students with an academic map to monitor progress toward degree, the institution is also enabling student agency among all students. Advisors and faculty have access to the degree-planning information, as well, which means multiple stakeholders can intervene and support students as they navigate their path. Improving Classroom Preparedness Officials also streamlined developmental education by either combining courses, such as reading and writing, and offering one-week course bootcamps to jump-start their academic programs. With the course bootcamps, students are passing at a rate of 80-85 percent and eliminate at least one remedial course. This means that overall enrollment in developmental education has decreased, but all students are on path to graduate sooner. Officials believe this ensures that part-time students are able to make meaningful progress toward their degree. Creating Lasting Relationships Sinclair also ensures that every student — even part-time students — have one specific advisor. As part-time students balance life and their education, sometimes these students don’t create social connections like their full-time student classmates. By having a consistent contact with experts in their Career Community (or Meta Major), these students now are connected with someone who knows their story as they progress through their academic journey. It demonstrates their belief that consistent relationships matter in furthering their development. Obtaining more Degrees The adjustments Sinclair made resulted in meaningful progress, as they have awarded more degrees and certificates than any other Ohio Community College during the last 5 years. Their commitment to increased success for all students – traditional and non-traditional, ensures more students leave with a degree or credential. Seeing all Students We have looked closer at three different schools – South Texas College, University of Washington Tacoma and Sinclair Community College, who have all actively chosen to adjust their support strategy to target and serve non-traditional students. At each college, the support services differed based on their individual ecosystem and populations, and saw increased results in persistence directly correlated to those changes. As more higher education institutions continue to promote access and inclusion, it’s important to understand that strategies for support services may need to evolve to reflect the changing realities of the student populations at institutions across the country. To learn more about recent insights for part-time student populations and how this reveals important information for student support strategies, download the Community Insights, Issue 3.

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Achieving the Dream president, Karen Stout, and Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer at Civitas Learning, Mark Milliron dive into the findings from our analysis of 1.4 million student records to learn more about the students who attend part-time.
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