Hundreds of Warren County Community College students recently vowed to complete their associate degrees during a week-long – and statewide – initiative in October – the 5th Annual New Jersey Community College Completion Challenge (NJC4). This program, which included all 19 community colleges in the state, was intended to increase awareness about the importance of completing associate degrees and certificates.
NJC4 is a campaign created to increase the number of students at community colleges completing their associate degrees and certificates and as a way for those who wish to, to successfully transfer to four-year colleges and universities to earn their bachelor’s degrees, and enter careers that provide family-sustaining wages.
During the week of Oct. 16-20, each community college held a series of campus-based college completion activities with the goal of raising awareness and encouraging students to sign the completion pledge. Since NJC4 began in 2013, over 33,000 students have signed the pledge to complete their degrees and certificates.
Events were both informational and social in nature with an emphasis on college completion and tools available to assist students in reaching their goals. Student leaders in Phi Theta Kappa, the international community college honor society, organized these events.
At WCCC, the local chapter, Alpha Upsilon Rho, hosted the event, which included instant advising, information on transferring to 4-year colleges, Internship and Career Information, Mentoring, Financial Aid, Library Services, Distance Education, and other important aspects of WCCC. Everything centered around students signing one of the College Completion banners on hand. In addition, laptops were available during the event so that students could go online if they wished to sign the Commit to Completion pledge through the Internet. Faculty and staff were encouraged to sign banners of support, as well.
“It was a very successful week,” said Jean Vasko, Advisor for PTK. “The students were very enthusiastic and compelled to participate.”
“We had a great turnout and we certainly raised awareness for both our honor society and the different services on campus that can help students to succeed and complete their degrees,” added Dorothy Helmken, President of WCCC’s PTK chapter. “Several students mentioned that they were thankful for the work we were doing and for the opportunity to thank faculty and staff members at our thank you card station.”
Graduation has been WCCC’s forte for many years. WCCC, in fact, is always among the top NJ community colleges for graduation rate.
“Our outstanding graduation rate is something we are very proud of,” said Dr. Will Austin, President of WCCC. “Hats off to our students for being committed to finishing what they start.”
The national Community College Completion Initiative began in April 2010 when leaders from the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community College Trustees, the League for Innovation in the Community College, and the Center for Community College Student Engagement signed Democracy’s Colleges: A Call to Action. Each of these organizations developed action plans and strategies to involve their constituents to produce 5 million more associate degree and certificate holders by 2020.
The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.