According to a recently released report from the National Student Clearinghouse, Kentucky's students who start at two-year public institutions have higher completion rates than their peers in the neighboring states of Ohio and Tennessee and in the nation.
The report tracks the fall 2010 cohort's six-year completion rates for students who began postsecondary education in fall 2010 on a KCTCS campus. Completions include diplomas, certificates and degrees, and may occur at the starting institutions or different two- and four-year institutions. It's important to note that students tracked included not only traditional full-time freshmen, but also part-time and adult students without a prior credential.
As the chart indicates, public two-year college students in Kentucky surpass their counterparts in the nation and in neighboring states with regard to completion rates at their starting institutions. Specifically, Kentucky's rate of 31.8 percent is considerably higher than those for Ohio (23 percent), Tennessee (28.1 percent) and the national average (26.7 percent).
What can be done to increase completions?
Affordability, demographics and the labor market are key influences as to when, where and how students attend college. However, one variable - full-time attendance - is particularly important. According to the Center for Community College Student Engagement, full-time enrollment (even for one semester) considerably increases the chances of college completion. The Center's report, Even One Semester: Full-Time Enrollment and Student Success, notes that 34 percent of students who enroll full-time for at least one term earn a certificate or associate degree, compared to 23 percent of those who always enroll part-time.
A priority of the state's strategic agenda for postsecondary and adult education, as well as Kentucky's new performance funding model, is to increase persistence and timely completion of all students. Completion rates are monitored in the "Success" metrics, which will be featured at the June 16 Council meeting in Louisville.