Essential Factors of a 15 to Finish Campaign: Increasing On-Time Completion Rates for Community College Students
Keywords:15 to Finish, completion, full-time enrollment, on-time graduation, academic momentum
The “on-time” degree completion crisis within the community college system is alarming. Only 5% of students graduate in two years (Complete College America [CCA], n.d.-a). Many community college students are low-income and racially and ethnically minoritized, and their graduation rates are low (CCA, n.d.-a). Community colleges around the country have begun to implement intervention strategies to improve on-time graduation and close attainment gaps. One of the most successful interventions implemented across the country has been a 15 to Finish campaign, a campus-wide effort aimed to increase the number of college students taking 15 credits per semester (CCA, 2016a). A comprehensive review of the literature and conversations with college professionals were conducted to better understand the factors that contribute to a successful 15 to Finish campaign. The findings indicated that a successful 15 to Finish campaign includes: (a) maintaining a high level of institutional commitment and effective leadership, (b) making the case with data, (c) reaching all key stakeholders, including students and their support systems, (d) providing professional development to internal stakeholders, (e) avoiding a one- size fits all model and accounting for the unique institutional culture, (f) sending clear messages, (g) providing incentives, and (h) engaging in continuous improvement efforts. Based on these findings, recommendations are provided for those who wish to increase on-time completion rates for community college students.
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