Motlow leads Tennessee community colleges in graduation rate
The Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) College System recently announced graduation and retention numbers for the 13 Tennessee community colleges that comprise the System. Motlow State Community College had the highest graduation rate of any community college over the past three years. The College also had the second-highest retention rate for freshmen who enrolled for the fall semester of 2016.
The Motlow graduation rate for the 2014-17 time frame came in at 35.5 percent, compared to the system-wide average of 21.8 percent. The next closest college, Roane State Community College, had a graduation rate of 28 percent. Highlighting the impressiveness of these numbers is the fact that Motlow has been a leader in enrollment growth amongst all Tennessee institutions of higher learning over the last three years.
The Motlow retention rate for freshmen enrolled for the 2016 fall semester came in at 61.2 percent, second only to Northeast Community College, which had a retention rate of 63.4 percent. The system-wide retention average for the 2016 freshman class was 55.9 percent. Retention rate is a critical number gauging the success of an institution in keeping students enrolled.
“We are very pleased with the recently announced numbers from TBR,” said Rhonda Cotham, director of student success at Motlow, “and feel they reflect not only the hard work by our faculty and staff and their dedication to our students, but also indicate the several ‘high-impact practices’ that we have put in place over the past few years are proving to be instrumental in the success of our students.”
Such practices include implementation of a completion coach program, where each Motlow freshman student is assigned a completion coach who serves as a resource for support for the student and provides mentoring as the student navigates the first year of college. “The coach functions as the ‘compass’ on a student’s journey,” Cotham added, “with all students, coaches and faculty sharing one common goal: completion of the student’s degree or certificate at Motlow.”
According to Cotham, Motlow also utilizes a two-tiered advisement process that has proven to be successful. Students work with their completion coach during their first year of college, and then move to a faculty academic advisor who can assist with planning for graduation during their second year. Additionally, Motlow students who are mandated to take a learning support class are required to take a First Year Experience class that is designed to empower them to reach their educational and career goals.
Along with expanding tutoring services through the Writing Center and Mathematics Lab, Motlow faculty has successfully embraced and implemented a new and innovative learning support model for teaching those students who require remedial coursework. This model has led to greater success of those students being able to migrate to college level studies, versus dropping out, thus contributing to the improved retention rate of freshmen.