Students sign pledge to complete college

Benefits of finishing associate’s degree touted

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IVCC students gathered Oct. 29 on the main campus and at the Ottawa center to sign a pledge to “commit to complete.”

The national education initiative, Community College Completion, was localized and led by the student organization Phi Theta Kappa.

The mass pledge states that students will complete their associate’s degrees or certificates before transferring or entering the job market. Administrators, faculty, and staff were also asked to sign the pledge as a representation of their dedication to help students succeed.

IVCC peer tutoring director Cathi Nelson and Phi Theta Kappa officer Brandon Miller also spoke about the importance of continuing education after high school.

Phi Theta Kappa worked on the initiative in conjunction with their Honors in Action project with efforts to increase graduation attendance and raise community awareness. Planning to have everyone come together to take part in the nationwide community college movement was what inspired the group’s call to action.

Miller, Phi Theta Kappa officer and leader of the project, said, “We came upon a project that could provide empowerment and provide the seed to a productive future that specifically meets our area’s needs.”

He explained that in 2013, reports showed that only 15.7 percent of adults (25+) in La Salle County have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That is nearly half the state average.

Additionally, individuals who complete higher education will earn an average of $500,000 more over the span of their careers, as opposed to those who did not complete.

Prior to the Oct. 29 event, PTK had sponsored a board signing, in which students also committed to completion. According to Miller, the group is also partnering with Easter Seals in Ottawa to aid those who have yet to obtain their GED and help them become involved in higher education.

The overall goal of the project is to encourage students to stick with course studies and shy away from taking time off. Miller said, “65 percent of students who drop out plan to return to college, but only 38 percent of them actually do.”

Melissa “Missy” Killian, academic counselor at IVCC, also weighed in on the importance of completion.

She explains, “The more new information and ideas we are exposed to help us grow to become informed, well-rounded individuals. This helps us to engage and contribute to our communities, societies and world in new and exciting ways.”

Community college completion is also more cost efficient and it allows students to obtain a quality education without racking up debt right out of high school.

According to the counselor, one year at Illinois State University roughly costs $14,146 while one year at IVCC costs about $3,562.

Additionally, Killian states that transferring on to complete a bachelor’s degree or receiving specialized training allows job-seekers to become more marketable and capable of a higher earning potential. The benefits of completion are ongoing.

As the semester goes on, becoming “burnt out” could possibly motivate students to think about dropping out. When these considerations arise, Killian advises students to find a balance between school and “outside life” because it is crucial to academic success.

The national movement, brought to campus through PTK, is intended to spark a trend here and help students find a path to success.

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