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Setting our Own Completion Rate Goals

Southwestern College is a pacesetter. Long before Chancellor Brice Harris announced his efforts to improve the student completion rate, we were looking at ways to improve student achievement. We created stretch goals for ourselves and spent a year listening to all our stakeholders to determine three research-based ways to get there.

We have been implementing those three strategies: 1) Electronic Student Educational Planning, 2) Analyze Completion Rates by Programs and 3) First-Year Experience. We accomplished the electronic SEP and the first-year experience pilot this year and we have learned ways to augment both efforts. And now we have a statewide goal in which to measure our growth.

As I outlined in my opening day presentation, the chancellor has set an annual growth goal of 2.5%. If our rate of change was 2.5% each year until 2025, we would stand at a 57% completion rate, while the state would be 62.8%.

So at what rate of change do we need to improve each year to not only reach the state average, but surpass it? Our Office of Institutional Effectiveness ran several different scenarios and calculated that we would need a rate of change increase of 3.5%

Annual Growth in Completions

At 3.5% annually, our students would achieve a 63.5% completion rate. What does that mean in terms of completers? Assuming the size of our student cohort remains the same, 62 additional students from the cohort would need to earn an associate’s degree, a certificate, transfer to a four-year institution or achieve transfer status. It’s an ambitious goal, but I believe it’s doable. Here’s an illustration of the number of completers we have projected over the next 10 years.

Annual Growth in Completions

Giving Us Your Ideas

The best ideas for improving Southwestern College and helping our students achieve their educational goals—including completion—come from YOU. Many of you have daily interaction with our students, and all of you are the experts in what you do. That’s why we want to hear your suggestions for improving everything we do as a college community.

Last week I had my first coffee chat and open hours and the Governing Board held the first listening tour visit. All the opportunities have given us a first-hand look—from your perspective—of what’s working at Southwestern and what challenges we face. I’ve gotten my list of ideas and Trustees Nora Vargas and Norma Hernandez received valuable feedback on the budgetary items that are most important.

Don’t worry if you missed this first round, however. We have time set aside each month for these activities. For a full list of the Governing Board Listening Tour, go to My next coffee chat is Sept. 22 and open hours are Sept. 26. To sign up for open hours, go to

Keep those good ideas coming!

Listening to your ideas over coffee
Listening to your ideas over coffee. 
 MESA students tell of their successes
  MESA students tell of their successes.

Last updated: 9/3/2014 8:57:20 AM