Benton Evening News
May 24, 2011
By Nathan Wheeler
Ina, Ill. — Looking for ways to improve college completion rates, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon brought her Complete College Tour to Rend Lake College on Friday to hear about programs in place that aim to help students earn a degree or certificate.
Simon met with RLC President Charley D. Holstein and members of his Cabinet exactly one week after the college experienced its largest graduating class ever.
“Community colleges are well known as cost- and time-effective locations to earn a valuable degree or certificate,” Simon stated in a press release on her website. “As community college enrollment continues to increase, we must work to ensure that students are provided with the necessary resources to complete their coursework and walk across the stage at graduation and into an Illinois workplace.”
As announced earlier this year, Simon’s goal is to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent from 41 percent by 2025, she stated.
Simon is touring the state’s 48 community colleges to see completion efforts at each campus, while also compiling ideas to overcome the barriers to each college’s completion goals.
Following a morning stop at Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Simon continued her tour at Rend Lake and learned that half of its students test into developmental math or reading classes. In response, the school has implemented a College Prep Cohort program to provide essential teaching and support services to its students.
Tutors are available in the classroom to address student questions in real-time, while additional tutoring services are available for free at the Learning Enhancement Center. Since the program’s inception in 2004 until the latest available data in 2008, completion rates of these students have increased 11 percentage points.
“I believe, if we have a recipe for success, it’s a concerted effort to focus on the needs of our students,” said Holstein. “In terms of graduation rates, we rank second among public two-year colleges in the state of Illinois and in the top 10 percent nationwide, according to a study recently released by the Aspen Institute.”
According to Simon, Rend Lake College was the 15th stop on the tour.