Completion by Design Grant Helps DCCC Students Find Pathways to Success

Nov. 2, 2012 – Davidson County Community College has big plans in the works for students thanks, in part, to its participation in the Completion by Design program, a $4.3 million grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Awarded to Guilford Technical Community College, which serves as the managing partner of the North Carolina Cadre of Community Colleges involved in the Completion by Design program, the five-year effort aims to significantly increase completion and graduation rates for low-income students ages 18 to 26. Other colleges participating in the grant include Central Piedmont Community College, Martin Community College, and Wake Technical Community College. The North Carolina Community College System Office is also a key partner in this grant.

Dr. Scott Ralls, president of the NC Community College System, congratulated the cadre on its planning work and successful proposal.

“With representatives from all five cadre colleges, our planning team has worked diligently for the past year, and the Gates Foundation award is recognition of the quality of their work. I look forward to beginning the implementation of our new student success pathway to ensure that students entering our doors remain engaged, overcome barriers and leave our colleges with the skills and credentials that will allow them to find gainful employment to support themselves and their families.”

“While we’ve always been committed to the success of our students, this grant is helping us put in place some key strategies to help them clearly define their goals and develop the skills to achieving them,” says Dr. Mary Rittling, president of DCCC. “It’s very important that students can readily visualize a path and a future where they have finished a program of study leading to more opportunities for them.”

DCCC is already making plans for a two-year implementation to begin a number of initiatives designed to increase student retention and completion. The college is requiring an orientation focusing on a student’s program of study, a success strategies course to be taken during the student’s first year in school, and clearly defined pathways for each program of study the college offers.

“This is the first initiative I’ve worked on that looks at a student’s entire college experience – from their first contact until the time they graduate,” says Jennifer Allen, implementation director for the Completion by Design initiative at DCCC. “We have identified the points in that experience where students lose momentum, and points that make students more likely to achieve their goals. We are implementing more than 15 strategies to help our students reach success.”

During the past year, the North Carolina Cadre studied the student success work already underway on its campuses and around the nation. Additionally, the group analyzed five years of student data and reviewed major research being conducted nationally. Based on that work, the cadre proposed new student pathways which are more clearly defined and provide more student support services between a student’s admissions to the college until he/she graduates.

“The opportunity to work in a cadre with five North Carolina community colleges has enabled each of us to learn from the others, and I believe all of our students will benefit from that collaboration,” Allen adds.

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013. It is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations, and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College on the Web at davidsonccc.edu.