Associate Degrees Pass 1 Million Mark

Community colleges awarded more than 1 million associate degrees in 2011-12, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year, reports Community College Week, which lists the top 100 associate degree and certificate producers.

Completion campaigns are starting to pay off. Indiana’s Ivy Tech, a statewide system, ranks first among two-year institutions and third overall in associate degrees awarded with a 12 percent increase. Completion is “now a priority for all community colleges,” said President Thomas J. Snyder. But Ivy Tech is underfunded, he complained.

The situation only worsened when students poured into the system after the 2008 recession.

“The facilities themselves are woefully under built,” Snyder said. “Our student to adviser ratio is 1000-1. Most colleges try to get to 500-1.”

Snyder said while 47 percent of all students enrolled in public colleges in Indiana attend Ivy Tech, the state gets just 14 percent of the higher education appropriations.

The Lone Star College System in Texas ranked third among two-year institutions, and 10th overall, in the number of associate degrees conferred, with 4,208, a 27 percent increase from a year earlier. The number of degrees earned by Hispanic students increased by 55 percent from the year before.

“Our board has made student success its top priority,” said Chancellor Richard Carpenter. “For the past three or four years, not a meeting goes by where we don’t talk about completion.”

Lone Star leads the statewide Texas Completes program, which aims to “identify, address and eliminate obstacles to student success and implement procedures and policies to speed a student’s completion.” For example, all new students must attend a common orientation and declare a program of study in their first year.

Via Joanne Jacobs, Community College Spotlight.