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Kishwaukee College graduation rate nearly doubles over 5 years

MALTA – Why should students need to submit a portfolio of what they learned in three or fewer years at Kishwaukee College? That’s the question college officials wanted to answer.

Once they learned their suspicions were warranted, the portfolio requirement was eliminated.

“There are so many other ways to assess learning,” President Laurie Borowicz said. “It’s all about how we all have to connect.”

The program completion rate jumped from 19 percent to 33 percent between 2013 and 2018. That includes full-time students, enrolled in college for the first time, who complete a program within three years. That rate is 23 percent, nationwide, and Kish’s 33 percent is 80 percent greater than 80 percent of community colleges in America, according to the National Community College Benchmark Project. 

The last time the portfolio was required was for graduation in May 2016, according to Kayte Hamel, executive director of marketing and public relations. Borowicz said the latest, greatest graduation spike was from 2017 to 2018, when it went up from 29 percent to 33 percent.

She said a focus on more active relationships between students and college staff has been key.

“Maybe that second jump has to do with how we have faculty and advisers being proactive,” Borowicz said. “We’re not just sitting in offices waiting for them to come to us.”

Sean Kesselring, lead academic adviser, said in a news release consistently connecting with and advising students from the time they apply has brought in and retained more students.

“The advising team sends regular emails throughout the semester to share tips for success and important information like scholarship deadlines or registration dates,” he said.

Partnering with local high schools to prepare students for college has been key. A recent example is that starting this spring, two Kish College instructors are spending part of their work day teaching two college-level, dual-credit classes at Genoa-Kingston High School. Such classes are typically taught by high school teachers, but G-K officials wanted to ensure students were being taught by college-certified instructors, according to a release from the college.

“This partnership shows that high schools and community colleges can come together and work together to meet the needs of the students, parents, and community,” Genoa-Kingston School District 424 Superintendent Brent O’Daniell said in the release. “Everybody wins in this partnership.”

Last year, more than 600 students were enrolled in dual-credit programs through Kish, up from 518 students enrolled in 2017, the release said.

“It’s all about building relationships,” said Michelle Rothmeyer, vice president of student services. “We want to make a comfortable, welcoming environment for the students.”

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