Graduation rate 17 percent less than national average

Setodzi Avoke
Staff Writer

Hudson Valley’s 25 percent graduation rate is below the national average, but there are a lot of factors that contribute to that number.

“You may draw the conclusion that community college graduation rates are too low,” said Dennis Kennedy, director of communications and marketing. “The other side of that argument is [that] many of our students come here without the intent to graduate.”

According to the Department of Education, the national average graduation rate is 42 percent. However, Kennedy says that these figures do not represent the goals or realities of many students.

“When it comes to community college, I think there are other factors to consider. Sometimes the metric ‘did they get a degree in two years? Three years?’ is not the best metric for success and it’s certainly not the only metric for college success,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy continued, “We believe that we’re here to support our students in achieving their individual education and career goals, and sometimes, that does not include obtaining a degree.”

Some students want to gain a semester’s worth of work and move on or take specific classes to help them in their job fields or just to gain experience. These students have the opportunity to gain the skills they need to get a job or a promotion.

Suzanne DeRook, who is working towards a certification in surgical technology, isn’t sure if she’ll transfer anywhere afterwards. “I think my first importance is receiving a job since I’m paying for this. I’m not doing financial aid or anything and then possibly there’s two year degree in [surgical technology], so I could continue at Hudson Valley.”

Hana Liscomb, who is completing a high school equivalency program, will not be graduating from Hudson Valley. “I am just taking this for the credits and then I’ll be transferring from here to UAlbany.”

Ease of credit transfer between Hudson Valley and the UAlbany made the 24 credit hour program she’s enrolled in appealing.

Community colleges generally have more affordable tuition rates than four-year schools. Some students come to Hudson Valley to work on increasing their GPAs before enrolling in a four-year school and paying for, in many cases, higher tuition fees.

“Our mission is to provide access to education for anyone in our community, and we do not have a selective administration process. While many of our students are very well-prepared for the rigors of college, we do have a population of students that may be less prepared to succeed in higher education,” said Kennedy.

To address that population, Kennedy said the college offers several services including free tutoring, the Learning Assistance Center, mentoring programs, academic coaching programs and a referral system for faculty to identify students in need of support and accommodation for individuals with learning disabilities.

“There are other ways to take a look at the data or look at a different set of data to get at what you would call student success,” said Kennedy.

The Student Achievement Measure and Voluntary Framework of Accountability is one such alternative way to measure student success. It tracks data beyond whether or not a student graduates, such as if they’ve transferred to another school without graduating. It also follows a student’s progress for six years rather than three, which is the standard time for tracking student progress at two year schools.

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