Lives really do change for the better every day at GCC, families do then grow stronger and our community then becomes a more sustainable one.
“How am I doing?” Remember the Mayor of New York, Ed Koch, asking that question? “How are we doing?” That is what GCC asks. Assessing performance is critical to our commitment to betterment. Improving what we do and how we do it is an ongoing process. We are always working to improve teaching, learning and students success. Our means are our ends in the making. If we are not about learning and getting better we are in decline, no longer living up to the mandates of our mission:
Our mission is to teach, in a small, supportive and intimate learning environment, the knowledge and skills necessary for our students to reach their highest potential. Our doors are open to all who seek to learn. In striving to fulfill this mission we also seek to learn the knowledge and skills necessary to reach our highest potential as a college. At GCC, we are passionate about teaching and learning together!
I am pleased to report on some of the recent data that illuminate our successes and point to a growing concern:
- GCC has the highest community college graduation rate in the state
- GCC has the highest community college retention rate in the state
- GCC has the highest acceptance rate of all MA CCs at UMASS Amherst
- The first year GPA of GCC students at UMASS is higher than that of other MA community colleges
- GCC continues to transfer more women to Smith than any community college in the nation
- 83% of the 100 graduates of our manufacturing program are employed
- 73% of all graduates in our professional programs, like nursing, paramedic, fire science or early child education, are employed within a year of graduation
And here the growing concern:
For the first time in GCC’s history, approximately 70% of our students now attend part-time. Almost 30% of GCC students indicate that “lack of finances” would make them withdraw from classes or the college, compared to 5% who would make that decision for “academic readiness.”
Why the concern? After all, most of us know what it is like to work our way through college. In fact, data suggest that working 20 hours a week while enrolled full-time elevates success rates and getting a paid internship while enrolled full time in college is a win for students/win for employers/and a win for the college. However, data are clear that attending college part-time decreases a student’s probability of graduation. Why are more students now attending part-time? Money! The cost of attending full-time is increasingly beyond their reach. This does not mean that part-time students don’t get good grades, graduate or succeed in life. What GCC and community colleges across the nation are finding is that attending full-time increases the probability of success, no matter how it is defined. Had I won that Powerball or if I were in charge of the Commonwealth’s resources, I would work to increase our student’s ability to attend full-time and mandate 20 hours of work at GCC or in the community.
GCC’s successes are this community’s successes. Lives really do change for the better every day at GCC, families do then grow stronger and our community then becomes a stronger and more sustainable one. Not one of those outcomes listed above would happen without your support, not one! But we can do better, we can help move the needle to increase the number of students able to attend full time. It is in the best interest of our students, families and community.