Low Completion Rates
One of the most challenging issues facing community colleges, and in fact all colleges and universities, is low completion rates. Across all community colleges and universities in the nation, 40% of first-time college students do not complete a degree.
However, these figures do not present a full understanding of community college students in higher education. They are unique in that not all community college students have a degree or certificate declared as their educational goal. Community college students' goals vary widely and they are all of value. They may not seek a degree or certificate but seek to complete classes for other reasons not limited to:
1. developing specific work skills
2. advancing in their career and earn increased salaries
3. filling learning gaps
4. earning college units while still in high school
5. completing lower division courses as a tuition saving strategy prior to transfer to university
6. completing lower division courses as a tuition saving strategy during the winter and summer although already enrolled at university during the school year.
Our community college students range in age from right out of high school to older adults. Additionally, a majority are working students who divide their time between work and going to college part-time and therefore take longer to complete their goals. They may begin college only to have their college studies interrupted by childcare needs, divorce, change of residence, death in the family, loss of employment, illness, etc. Unfortunately, completion rates are measured by governmental agencies within a framework of 3 years for community colleges. Yet one of the advantages of our amazing community college system is that students are not turned away despite the fact that they may start and stop their education along their journey. It works for them but it hurts our numbers.
What Needs To Be Done
The public's and government's definition and expectation for success is for degree completion within an artificially imposed timeline. Our measurement of success has to reflect the reality of differing goals and life circumstances. After all, this is why we are called a "community" college! Because we aim to meet the needs of the individuals in our community as wide and varied as they may be. Once the definition for success is more accurate, the institution's goal should be to increase the number of students who reach their individual goals. Our college continues to lobby for a fairer definition of student success that takes into account the special circumstances of community college students.
Additionally, any data collected as we develop strategies must be studied in total as well as disaggregated so we can examine the impact on students based on ethnicity, age, gender, socio-economics, etc to ensure equity in the delivery of services and instruction.
What we are doing at COC
The good news is that COC is ranked No.1 in LA County and No. 2 in California for its completion rate by college-prepared students. Nearly 80% of our college prepared students complete a degree or certificate, or are ready to transfer to 4-year university when their studies are completed.
At College of the Canyons, our Strategic Plan 2019-20 indicates that the number of degrees and certificates earned by our students has increased by 69% from 2013 to 2018. In 2019 the college issued the highest numbers: 2,830 degrees and 1,634 certificates, but this number is still lower than Dr. Edel Alonso would like it to be.
Therefore, our district has initiated a number of programs to provide students with opportunities to work less hours and concentrate on their studies. We aim to provide students with support to help increase their completion rates.
* Canyons Promise pays student fees for qualified students in their first year if enrolled full-time and their second year fees if they maintain academic standards
* Zero Textbook Costs saves student costs by increasing the number of courses not needing textbooks but rather using online open resources
* Accelerated Remediation saves student time by fast-tracking English and Math remediation courses
* Guided Pathways provides clear course selection and sequencing with integrated career and educational guidance, as well as on-going feedback
* Associate Degrees for Transfer 23 Associate degrees guarantee transfer to a California State University.
College of the Canyons Fact Book 2017-18
College of the Canyons 2019-20 Catalog
College of the Canyons Website www.canyons.edu