College Completion

Are you Committed?

Finish what you start. It’s a concept adopted by Snead State Community College, but what does it actually mean? Why is it important?
Snead State was the first two-year college in Alabama to sign on to the College Completion Agenda, which is an initiative to increase the number of graduates receiving their Associate’s degree.

The College Completion Challenge developed out of a Call to Action signed by six key educational organizations: Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community College Trustees, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), League for Innovation, and the Center for Community College Student Engagement. The Call to Action was a direct response to President Barack Obama’s challenge to community colleges to produce an additional 5 million certificates and Associate’s degrees by 2020.

The Call to Action came after Snead State identified "Finish What You Start" as a College initiative addressed during the strategic planning process.

The College Completion Campaign is a rewarding but challenging initiative. Many community college students face obstacles that make attending college difficult.

According to a report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 54 percent of students need to work to support themselves and their families, and managing work and classes is not an option for some of them.

Thirty-one percent of students cannot afford to attend college. Sixty-two percent of students who drop out of college were paying for their own education. While 65 percent of students who drop out plan to return, only 38 percent of them actually do.

"The benefits to receiving an Associate’s degree are stronger than the challenges some of our students may face. Our focus as a community college is to provide the information and services that will assist students in overcoming those challenges," said Snead State Community College President Dr. Robert Exley.

"I am an example of why graduation is important. If not for my Associate’s degree, I wouldn’t have gotten my Bachelor’s degree. And if not for it, I wouldn’t have gone on to complete my Master’s degree. Without it, I wouldn’t have pursued my Ph.D. I was encouraged to stay in college even when I didn’t believe I belonged there."

Armed with an Associate’s degree or certificate, students can expect to earn as much as $8,000 more per year and about $400,000 in a lifetime than a high school graduate, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Having the two-year degree will also give students an advantage over high school graduates when seeking employment, and unemployment of Associate-degree holders is typically 30 percent lower than that of high school graduates.

For more information on the College Completion Challenge, visit www.cccompletioncorps.org.