With fewer than half of students graduating from four-year public colleges graduating in six years and just one-fourth of those entering two year colleges earning a degree, the state of Georgia is in desperate need of an educational turnaround. For that reason, Governor Nathan Deal has joined the ranks of those who are desperately searching for a way to increase college-graduation rates in the state of Georgia.
“Completion numbers are not that good in Georgia,” said Stan Jones, who is the president of the Complete College America foundation, in a recent Chronicle article.
According to statistics, those students who have to take remedial courses in college are more likely to drop out before graduating. In an effort to produce students who are better prepared for college, the Board of Education eliminated the general diploma and toughened its high school curriculum. The state even passed a law providing a money-back guarantee to employers that promised graduates would be adequately educated. Nonetheless, colleges are still finding that they need to re-teach content that students should have learned in high school.
To help address the number of students who need to take remedial courses, Governor Deal managed to obtain a $1 million grant to go toward the development of online remedial courses. In this way, students can study at their own pace as they fill in the missing holes. Deal also ordered college presidents to create a plan that focuses on increasing the completion rates of the students who attend them. While the simple response to this would be to simply increase admission standards, this will not address the state’s need to increase the number of graduates. According to officials, Georgia will need college graduates to fill 60 percent of the state’s jobs in 2018. As such, the state needs to focus on gaining more students rather than turning them away.
In an effort to bring in more students and to increase their graduation rates, most of Georgia’s college presidents are turning toward “engagement.” By getting students more engaged in campus life, they hope to increase their retention rates. To increase student engagement, many of Georgia’s schools are doing things such as throwing parties, concerts and cookouts. Some professors are also making an effort to call roll each day and to contact those students who are not in attendance.
The Governor is also considering a plan that would base funding on completion rates. While this plan was set aside due to recent statewide budget cuts, Deal is still looking for ways to bring the idea to fruition. What are your thoughts? Is the answer to bribe colleges with state funding? What steps should Georgia take to increase the state’s college graduation rates?