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HCC participates in College Completion Summit

Female graduate

Half of all undergraduate students in Maryland are now enrolled in community colleges. In an effort to help increase the number of students who successfully complete their programs of study, faculty and administrators at Hagerstown Community College recently participated in the second annual Summit on Completion, hosted by the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.        

“The college completion agenda has been on the radar of national, state, and local officials,” said Guy Altieri, HCC president and chair of the Maryland Council of Community College Presidents. “As a community college, we are making great progress on increasing completion rates and in developing new strategies to ensure continued improvement. It’s important for us, however, to make clear distinctions between the nature of community colleges and four-year institutions.”

MACC is focused on explaining the differences between community colleges and four-year schools. Most community college students attend part-time, so it takes them much longer to complete their programs. A Maryland model for measuring completion appropriately takes into account student associate degree and certificate attainment, and successful transfer to four-year schools. Completion rates of community college students who attend full-time are comparable to completion rates attained at many four-year institutions.

In Maryland, community college leaders have identified 80 best practices for increasing student completion success. Part of these efforts includes revamping developmental education programs to ensure that more students in need of remediation are able to succeed in college-level work.

During the Summit on Completion, HCC faculty members shared some of their best practices. Joan Johnson, chair of the English and humanities division, and Dawn Schoenenberger, director of developmental education and adult basic education, gave a presentation on their collaboration with Washington County Public Schools to offer a course that prepares high school students for college-level English. Cynthia Dove, associate professor of anatomy and physiology, and Judith Peisen, chair of the math and science division, gave a presentation on the use of student learning outcomes assessment data to identify strategies for improving completion for at-risk pre-nursing students.

“HCC has a long history of commitment to student success,” said David Warner, vice president of academic affairs at HCC, “but the challenging economic conditions require that we do even more. The faculty and academic officer-led Curriculum Excellence Project, implemented in the fall of 2010, is another way we are helping students obtain their educational and career goals in a more timely manner.”

Maryland’s 16 community colleges are firmly committed to addressing these issues and have embraced Governor O’Malley’s “Skills2Compete Maryland” agenda to increase degree and certificate attainment by 20 percent by 2012. They have also authored a statewide pledge of commitment to the completion agenda laid out by the president and other national leaders, calling for an increase in the number of Americas with college degrees to 55 percent by 2025.

For more information on college completion efforts at Maryland’s community colleges, visit www.mdacc.org/blog.