New advising centers at RCCC helping students Graduation rates improve at North, South campuses

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s Academic and Career Advising Centers were recently recognized for their outstanding work over the second year of the Strengthening Institutions Program grant that provided the startup funds for the centers.

In September 2011, the college was awarded the $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Only one of two colleges in North Carolina to receive this Title III funding, Rowan-Cabarrus plans to improve student persistence, retention and graduation rates.

Rowan-Cabarrus used the grant to establish Academic and Career Advising Centers on both the North Campus in Rowan County and the South Campus in Cabarrus County.

With program services just beginning in summer 2012, Academic and Career Advising Center activities have already demonstrated great impact on student success.

All students have access to the services provided under the grant, but some aspects focus on undecided students and students enrolled in developmental classes.

“The ACA Centers’ mission is to improve student persistence, retention and graduation rates through intentional advising and academic interventions,” said Marcia Miller, director of the Academic and Career Advising Center. “Our advisors are committed to helping students plan their educational paths and navigate their way forward.”

One notable measure of success this past year includes the overall number of graduated or retained students increasing from 56.4 percent to 60.2 percent. Involving faculty members as student advisors has also been an important and effective strategy.

“I have enjoyed working as a master faculty advisor. It is a real pleasure to help students create an educational plan that allows them to see how many months they need to commit to education to achieve their goal,” said Ellen Troutman, radiography instructor and master faculty advisor. “This experience has been very rewarding as I see the joy on each student’s face when educational goals are realized.”

By focusing on course placement, program information, and the utilization of online registration, the Academic and Career Advising Center is able to help students develop realistic academic plans and ensure they have the necessary information to register for courses and expedite beginning their college career.

The college’s goals for the third year of the grant are that 30 percent of the total student population will participate in Academic and Career Advising Center activities; 52 percent of full-time degree seeking students will be retained and that graduation of full-time degree seeking students will increase one percent over the 2011 established baseline.

The college has already met and exceeded the first goal.

The College’s commitment to this effort is part of a unified commitment by community colleges across the country to increase the rate of postsecondary completion.

“Rowan-Cabarrus is committed to the ‘Completion Agenda’ and securing this grant is part of the College’s work toward achieving the national goal for America to lead the world in college graduates by 2020,” said Spalding.

The grant provided 100 percent of the funding for the projects in the first year, with the remaining funds spread across the course of five years in order to build capacity for the College to sustain the activities implemented through the grant. The College’s Foundation has raised $126,500 so far toward the endowment fund, which the grant has matched.