Hundreds of students from Warren County Community College took part in a statewide campaign to increase awareness of the importance of completing associate degrees and certificates.
Part of an effort between Kean University, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ (NJCCC) Center for Student Success, the New Jersey Community College Completion Challenge (NJC4) was held in October.
WCCC’s participation was coordinated by student leaders of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges.
The challenge seeks to increase the number of students at community colleges completing their associate degrees and certificates so that they can successfully transfer to four-year colleges and universities to earn their bachelor’s degrees, and enter careers that provide family-sustaining wages.
All 19 New Jersey community colleges held campus-based college completion activities during the week of Oct. 19 to 23. Events followed the theme of “Accomplishing Your Dreams,” and were both informational and social in nature.
At WCCC, these activities included complimentary food, a seminar, academic advising, and a scholarship and transfer information booth.
“The Challenge has been very successful at WCCC since its inception three years ago,” said Rose Lynch, Director of Student Activities and Phi Theta Kappa, Chapter Advisor. “Students are taking great pride in working toward their degrees. It gets them thinking long-term about their educational goals and affords us an additional opportunity to guide and assist them along the way.”
Overall, during the inaugural NJC4 event in 2013, over 11,000 students signed pledges to commit to complete their degrees and certificates. Last year, over 15,000 students signed pledges.
“We are excited about NJC4 at New Jersey’s 19 community colleges,” said NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli. “Partnering with the New Jersey Education Association and Kean University as a part of NJC4 helps us to inform students about the importance of staying in school to earn a college credential. Earning an associate degree gives students a leg up when transferring to a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree. For students looking to enter the workforce, having an associate degree or certificate can lead to a great job that pays a family sustaining wage.”
Kean University and the NJEA provided a grant to WCCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter to help offset the cost of NJC4 events and activities. In addition, WCCC received a Community College Completion Toolkit provided by Pearson Higher Education that includes student pledge cards, faculty/staff pledge cards and signing banners.
“NJEA is happy to once again partner with New Jersey’s 19 community colleges to support the NJC4 initiative that encourages students to persevere, succeed and ultimately achieve the credentials necessary to be successful members of New Jersey’s workforce,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer.
Faculty and staff members at Warren County Community College were also asked by students to sign pledges to serve as Completion Champions, who assist students in their completion efforts.