Recommendation 1 – Completion

Increase completion rates by 50% by 2020

Increase completion rates of students earning community college credentials (certificates and associate degrees) by 50% by 2020, while preserving access, enhancing quality, and eradicating attainment gaps associated with income, race, ethnicity, and gender.

To meet the challenge of dramatically increasing college completion rates, community colleges will have to fundamentally redesign students’ educational experiences.

How Can Colleges Do This Work?

Advice to colleges focuses on six implementation strategies:

  • Publicly commit to explicit goals for college completion. At the institution and state levels, articulate aggressive numeric goals, time frames, and the commitment to achieve equity in outcomes for a diverse student population.
  • Create pathways. Construct coherent, structured pathways to certificate and degree completion, and then ensure that students enter a pathway soon after beginning college.
  • Expand prior learning assessments. Maximize appropriate awards of college credits for prior learning, such as learning acquired through military service.
  • Devise completion strategies on both ends of the college experience. Improve student outcomes in high-risk entry-level classes, such as college-prep algebra and college-level mathematics, and help students who have completed 30 credit hours take the final steps toward completion.
  • Establish guarantees for seamless transfer. Advocate state policy that ensures transfer of designated courses, certificates, and degrees from community colleges to universities and monitors compliance.
  • Implement reverse transfer agreements. Ensure that students who transfer before completing an associate degree are awarded credit toward community college credentials for courses completed at other community colleges and baccalaureate institutions.