January 20, 2012
By Stephen Di Benedetto
Carl Sandburg College ranks in the top 15 of community colleges in Illinois that graduate students within three years, according to a new report that urges colleges to graduate more students in three years or less and better prepare them for the job market.
The report also revealed that newly admitted CSC students are not prepared for certain college-level courses, especially in the subject of math. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon issued the report Thursday about Illinois’ 48 community colleges, concluding her yearlong fact-finding tour of the state’s campuses.“
Our request of community colleges is deceptively simple: Help more of your students finish what they started,” Simon said in a news release. “As a state, we must stay focused on the finish.”
CSC successfully graduated 30 percent of its first-time, full-time student population in three years or less, which ranks the college 13 of 48, but far from Frontier Community College in Fairfield, which ranks first, graduating 57 percent.
CSC President Lori Sundberg said the college has started several measures in the last few years to address completion, including a first-year experience course that is designed to mentor and retain students.“We do a fair job of completing students, but it certainly isn’t where we want it to be,” Sundberg said.
Simon’s report also details a common trend of students not being prepared for certain college-level courses that can prolong a student’s tenure in college. In announcing the decision, Simon specifically focused on math standards, arguing that high schools and community colleges should collaborate on offering dual-credit math courses.
She also urged high schools to voluntarily require four years of mathematics, as opposed to the current three-year standard.
With CSC, the report found that nine of 10 students are not prepared for college-level math and six of 10 students unprepared for college-level writing. Sundberg said the college has strengthened its tutoring program and started a retention program to help students successfully complete courses.
CSC’s block program, recently started through a state grant, also combines basic and more intensive course work in the health sciences department that helps student completion and retention. Simon’s report praised the program, and Sundberg said the college would try to expand it to other departments.
The 50-page report also spotlights Pam Eaves, CSC’s student trustee on the college’s board. Eaves, 60, is featured for her dedication in pursuing additional education after she lost her job at Galesburg’s Protexall, a textile company that closed. Eaves will graduate in the spring.“
I’ll miss being in school and seeing my new friends,” Eaves said in the report. “But I’m ready to get back to work.”