JCJC Joins National Effort to Boost Number of College Graduates

Written By: Kelly Atwood and Marlo Dorsey
Email Address: kelly.atwood@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2011-08-25 09:00:48

JCJC Joins National Effort to Boost Number of College Graduates
ELLISVILLE - Jones County Junior College kicked off its centennial year by joining a national initiative aimed to increase college graduation rates.  JCJC is partnering with Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges, by pledging to grow its number of graduates through a Commit to Complete agreement.
      JCJC President Dr. Jesse Smith and hundreds of faculty signed the graduation pledge on campus along with PTK (Phi Theta Kappa) Executive Director Dr. Rod Risley on August 17.
      JCJC joins PTK’s action agenda efforts to raise awareness on the growing importance of obtaining a college degree in today’s economy. A look to the future shows unprecedented challenges from shortages in educational achievement and workforce skills.  
     “This graduation initiative is vital to the success of our economy, both now and for future generations,” said Smith.  “It’s important for all of us to see the big picture and take action.  For the first time in history, America’s youth run the risk of being less educated than their parents.  The United States dropped from 1st to 12th among developed countries in the number of young adults with college degrees.” 
     These staggering statistics, presented to Capitol Hill in a 2010 College Board report, were also headlined in the Washington Post and New York Times in July 2010.
      Risley’s message to college faculty shared more facts about the importance of finishing the degree individuals set out to achieve.   
    “Nationally, 84 percent of college students intend to complete a baccalaureate degree, but only 10 percent actually do. In 2018, all jobs will require a post-secondary education,” said Risley. “Community colleges are the answer. Today, they are the fastest, most effective way to improve local economies and develop communities. We have a proven record of results. 
    “A student with an associates degree who must leave college and go unexpectantly into the workforce will make more than a student with three years of baccalaureate classes with no degree.”
     Risley’s organization, Phi Theta Kappa, has launched a Community College Completion Corps, a student-led initiative to raise awareness of the importance of college completion. 
     In support of the national campaign, the JCJC PTK chapter has created its own graduation campaign titled, “The Tassel’s Worth the Hassle.” The campaign will raise awareness and share statistics with students proving the numerous benefits of degree attainment.
     Through its campaign, PTK members will encourage students to sign a pledge stating that they will do everything they can to complete college. The pledge will also be signed by Smith, JCJC administrators, and the JCJC Board of Trustees.   
    “We are honored to be a part of the college completion initiative that is taking place at Jones,” said JCJC PTK President Gwen Matuszewski.  “There are many statistics that show just how beneficial graduating from community colleges can be for both the students and the colleges. We hope to spread the word about the benefits of community college completion as much as we can. Our PTK chapter supports bettering the community and the lives of students, and getting involved with this initiative is a great opportunity to do that.”
   Since 2008, community college enrollment has increased across the nation, in some spots increasing by 40 percent. Today, community colleges educate 13-14 million students.  Risley attributes that rising enrollment to both the quality of instruction and the low costs of community colleges.  
    In 2009, President Obama created the American Graduation Initiative to double the number of college graduates by 2020. If the U.S. can reach that goal, it will reclaim its top rank for college graduates globally.


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