More than 300 Cayuga Community College students on the Auburn and Fulton campuses signed pledges on October 3, committing to complete their degrees. By doing so, they acknowledged that students who hold associate degrees have better prospects for jobs, scholarships, and transfer to four-year schools.
The 37 SUNY and CUNY community colleges who participated in Completion Day on October 3 held special events, workshops, lectures, and counseling sessions to help students understand the importance of graduating and to plan their long-term goals.
At Cayuga, students in Auburn and Fulton heard from alumni who explained how their education had helped advance their careers.
Rob Fragoman, designer at ITT Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls, told the students that he had his position at Goulds lined up a month before graduation. Now, his employer is paying for him to continue his studies at a four-year institution.
“I have a great job, a great apartment, and a great car,” he said. “It’s all because I earned my degree.”
Alumnus Doug Brill ’91, who works as the engineer for the telecommunications program at Cayuga, talked about his experience as a non-traditional student. He also said that by earning his degree, he earned three times more than he did without it.
Students enjoyed free lunch and also had the opportunity to get their pictures taken in a graduation cap in a photo booth set up at each campus.
Completion Day featured the debut of a state-wide video with a variety of distinguished community college alumni talking about the value of their education. In the video, Cayuga Community College Alumna and New York Times Best-Selling Author Kim Edwards ’78 shares her advice for students. To view the video, check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfCD9uSQTU4&feature=BFa&list=UUY_q7jOR560Y8f-mpeWSCsg.
Participating schools also watched a live webcast of keynote speaker Isa Adney. Her presentation is available online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kC5XEiiZeY&list=UUY_q7jOR560Y8f-mpeWSCsg&index=2&feature=plcp.
Nationally, only 20 percent of community college students complete their credentials in three years. In New York, the statewide completion rate is 19.6 percent in three years.
- Yet, students who complete an associate degree can expect to earn $400,000 more in a lifetime than a high school graduate. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
- Unemployment for community college graduates is typically 30 percent lower than for high school grads. (Source: “Internationally, College Graduates Fared Better During Recession,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 2010)
- New York residents who transfer directly from a SUNY or CUNY two-year college with an associate degree are guaranteed entry to a four-year SUNY college. (Source: SUNY Transfer Guarantee Program Guidelines, Document Number: 3303)
Completion Day was one part of a multi-dimensional retention effort to encourage students to set and complete their academic goals. A committee of faculty and staff members expects to issue a comprehensive report in December with suggestions and ideas to help improve retention and completion at Cayuga.
For more information on Completion Day and statistics regarding community college completion, visit www.cayuga-cc.edu/completion.