As part of its 65 by 25 initiative, which seeks to ensure that 65 percent of adults 25 and older in New Hampshire will have some form of post-secondary education by 2025, the Community College System of NH (CCSNH) is launching two interrelated initiatives. Known as Purpose First and 15 to Finish, these initiatives will serve as the focus of an upcoming summit at NHTI in Concord on March 24.
According to Beth Doiron, Director of College Access and DoE Programs and Initiatives at CCSNH, both initiatives are also part of Complete College America, which is charged to increase the completion rate of college students.
“We are working to increase college completion rates, which has been done in other states that have adopted 15 to Finish and Purpose First,” she said.
Doiron said Cape Cod Community College, for instance, has seen impressive results since implementing both initiatives in the 15-16 school year. She cited several statistics as proof, which include the following:
Students enrolled in 15+ credits
Fall 2014: 7%
Fall 2015: 8%
Fall 2016 (as of 6/17/16): 13%
With the state’s colleges invited to attend, the Summit will also welcome high school administrators and counselors. Doiron said she hopes the Summit can outline CCSNH’s work with the Complete College America Guided Pathways Initiative in the past year and how high school administrators and counselors can incorporate it at the high school level.
“We want to help students more easily identify pathways to degrees,” she added. “That’s why we are working towards reducing the number of credits needed for degree program completion to 60 so students will be better able to complete their degrees within two years…We have identified 7 major academic focus areas that will help students narrow their program selection and also assist with program completion. All of these efforts will contribute to increased college completion rates.”
According to Doiron, Purpose First seeks the widespread adoption by public postsecondary institutions of strategies and practices to help all students better discern their purpose in college.
“It’s a strategy designed to help students explore their after-college goals and choices earlier in their postsecondary experience,” she said. “Students are coming into college today unsure of what program path to take—we want to actively support students to build deeper awareness of purpose as they progress through school.”
15 to Finish
Through 15 to Finish, students will be actively encouraged to take a full credit load of 15 credits each semester.
“Most students are not taking the credits needed to graduate on time,” said Doiron. “If we can help students on a pathway right when they enter the college system and take a minimum of 15 credits per semester, it will go a long way toward ensuring they can earn their degree or certificate on time.”
65 by 25
Expressing optimism at Summit’s potential to bring a wide variety of stakeholders together for a common purpose, Doiron said the event underscores the very real need to advance 65 by 25. According to researchers at Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, 68 percent of jobs in New Hampshire will require educational attainment beyond high school by 2020. Present research, however, indicates that far less than 68 percent of New Hampshire’s workforce will reach that educational threshold, which is why CCSNH introduced 65 by 25.
“Our goal is to help ensure that 65 percent of adults 25 and older in the state will have some form of post-secondary education by 2025,” Doiron said. Purpose First, 15 to Finish and Guided Pathways are all designed to achieve this goal and position New Hampshire to support a stronger future economy.”
The CCSNH Purpose First and 15 to Finish Summit will take place on March 24 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. To learn more about the Summit, contact Doiron at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about CCSNH, visit www.ccsnh.edu.