Reaching Vulnerable Undergrads
In an effort to boost the college completion rate, Dr. Gail O. Mellow, the president of LaGuardia Community College and vice chair of the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment, joined the commission members in calling upon the higher education community to introduce reforms to better serve its untraditional student population-the older and part-time student.
In the report, “College Completion Must Be Our Priority,” the commission of the nation’s six leading higher education associations, provides a comprehensive blueprint for a college completion campaign. The document urges institutions to find ways to award students credit for previous learning through various col- lege equivalency evaluations such as the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program and e-portfolio.
It also recommends improving remedial services, gathering information technology to identify at-risk students, easier credit transfers, and accommodating the students’ busy lives by offering late-night classes and online courses.
At LaGuardia, Mellow is leading a campaign that is focused on graduation, and is already putting into place the kinds of reforms called for in the report. “American needs college graduates as never before to fuel our economy and renew our society,” said Dr. Mellow. “The commission’s blueprint energizes me as a college president to redouble my efforts to ensure that every student graduates.”
To see that its students, many of whom are juggling college, job and family reach the finish line, Mellow added that, “We are listening to students, faculty and staff, gathering their observations and recommendations and pursuing broad and deep changes to ensure that our students graduate and are prepared for transfer and the ever-competitive workforce.”
While LaGuardia continues its efforts to ensure that its students successfully pursue their associate degree, the report is urging the nation’s colleges and universities to make college completion their most important priority.
“Our American higher education system is simply unparalleled, and yet far too many students are not making it to the finish line with a diploma in hand,” said E. Gordon Gee, chair of the commission and president of The Ohio State University. “This is an unacceptable loss of human potential, and we call upon college and university leaders to recommit themselves to student success.”
Convened in October 2011, the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment was created with participation from the American Council on Education, the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and included members nominated by each association, representing two-year, four-year, public and private institutions.
The goal of the commission was to chart a course for greatly improving college retention and attainment and, in turn, restoring the nation’s higher education preeminence.