East Central College (ECC)

East Central College received good news about its graduates at its board of trustees meeting this week.

Preliminary data shows that this academic year, ECC had the third-highest graduation rate for two-year community colleges in Missouri.

The most recent data for the college from the Institutional Research Department indicated that ECC’s graduation rate for first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students is 28 percent.

That’s out of 550 students who were seeking a degree at ECC, and while enrollment dropped slightly this past academic year, the increase is because of the faculty, administration and staff, according to Counselor and ECC Professional Staff President Jenny Kuchem.

Kuchem presented the college’s advising and counseling service departments’ findings Wednesday.

The graduation rate comes from the 2017-18 academic year, where ECC had 550 students who were eligible for graduation. Out of those students, 154 graduated.

Kuchem said ECC’s commitment to moving academic advising to full-time advisers for nearly all programs, adjusting degree requirements and aligning its practices with Complete College America’s 15 to Finish program helped with raising the rate to the third highest in the state.

In the past two years alone, the college has raised its graduation rate by 8.4 percent.

Some additional changes that have been made to improve the graduation rate at the college include an evolving course schedule. Kuchem said changing the days and times students are required to be on campus helped those students who needed flexibility to graduate.

Adding a winter session where students could catch up on credits also helped the process, she said, adding that the student planning program and online publishing of the academic catalog contributed as well.

Board President Ann Hartley said the rate increase is welcomed good news for the college. She said the work of the advising and counseling department is a big part of why the graduation rate has risen.

President Dr. Jon Bauer echoed Hartley’s comments. He said the graduation rate is a good example of the hard work of staff and students.

“We have been encouraging and working with students to complete and working to make sure that happens,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see these numbers show that the work is paying off.”

Recently, Bauer told The Missourian the college would be focusing on making sure students return to finish their degrees if they haven’t transferred. He said while there is always value in taking courses to further your education, finishing a degree or successfully transferring should be a goal all students aim to reach.

“There’s real value in completing your degree and, for those transferring, to successfully transfer,” he said. “For those full-time cohorts of students, most of them come with that goal in mind, to complete that degree, and to see that happen is outstanding.”

Bauer added that he’d like to see the rate continue to improve and thinks that with the college’s new focus, it’s possible.

“We don’t want to stop. We want to keep improving and be the best in the state. We want to keep moving and continue to improve those completion rates,” he said.