C4: College completion equals academic success

C4: College completion equals academic success

By Georgia I. Salvaryn
Staff Writer

Completing college is a very challenging but rewarding experience.

According to collegeatlas.org, about 30 percent of students in colleges and universities aren’t up for that challenge in the first year. That’s why there is the C4 Initiative: Community College Completion Challenge.

“In essence, we are committed to helping all of our students to complete their college education,” stated Professor Karrol Jordan, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Anthropology and a Phi Theta Kappa advisor. “Of course, at the two year level, that means acquiring an Associate’s Degree. We encourage students to go on to a four year school and even beyond.”

College plays an essential part in every students’ future. It determines a student’s future lifestyle, life choices, and opportunities in both their personal and professional life.

According to the C4 Initiative web page Why Complete? on cccompletioncorps.org, most employers hire college graduates over people who didn’t attend or graduate college. Being a college graduate demonstrates to the employer that he or she has the discipline to finish what he or she started.

In an interview on college completion, Sarah Galzerano, the president of Cumberland County College’s Phi Theta Kappa Rho Gamma Chapter and a communications major, stated, “Some people say that college only gets worse, but I say that it only gets better. To those students who want to drop out of college because it’s too hard, they are too busy, or it’s not for them, I would tell them to stay strong. I have been that student who has had panic attacks because my full class load, my job, and my extracurricular activities were too much to handle, but I stayed strong and pulled through because these challenges only make you a stronger person and they help you find your way in life.”

Not only is college completion highly important for yourself, but for the economy. According to Why Complete?, the amount of qualified workers in the U.S. is shrinking rapidly due to the increasing percentage of retirees, which means the number of tax payers who pay for public education, social programs, and national defense are decreasing.
In reference to Why Complete?, some states in the U.S. have high school dropout rates that exceed fifty percent. As a result, many high school dropouts will no longer qualify for minimum wage jobs because many jobs in the market are now requiring employees to have a high school diploma. Within the next five years, it is likely that 65% of all new jobs will require postsecondary credentials.

On Thursday, October 22, 2015, Cumberland County College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society hosted the C4 Initiative event in the University Center lobby. Students signed a petition and pledged to motivate themselves and encourage others to complete their college education.
The choice is yours to make: commit and complete college or become a statistic. I commit! Do you?

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Phi Theta Kappa’s C4 Initiative

By SARAH GALZERANO and REBECCA KOLIMAGA
Staff Writers

Sarah and Michael Galzerano hold up the C4 Student-signed banner.

Sarah and Michael Galzerano hold up the C4 Student-signed banner.

Promises to yourself are undoubtedly the most important promises. You have given yourself an obligation that can reignite your determination for success. About six years ago, President Obama recognized that the national average for graduation rates at community colleges was decreasing, and he began the C4 (Community College Completion Corps) Campaign. Cumberland County College President, Dr. Isekenegbe, joined this campaign two years ago. Once a year, CCC’s Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) sets up tables around campus, and holds an event with guest speakers, to ask students to commit themselves to their graduation.

Five hundred students signed last year, but this year the goal is 1,000 signatures. Between 700 and 800 signatures have already been collected, and PTK and administrators are eager to reach their goal. Sharon Kewish, CCC English professor and PTK advisor, spoke about former students when she commented, “…they knew [college] was important, but they didn’t think about how they’re making a commitment to themselves, not to us, not to anybody else. They’re committed to themselves.”

Students that drop out of college could be facing financial, family, health, or academic issues. It could be a decision between going to work and going to class. A family member may need copious amounts of support, or a student’s health may not allow that student to attend class anymore. Some students have the ability to graduate, but they are struggling academically. CCC has resources such as Project Assist, EOF, tutoring, mentoring, and scholarships, but it isn’t always that simple. Sometimes students have to drop out, but it is imperative for those students to remember that they can always come back.

Kewish said, “It might be one year later, it could be four or five years later, but I’m always glad to see them come back.” Cumberland County College’s C4 Initiative is designed for students to make a commitment to themselves that they will graduate. There is no time constraint; students don’t have to graduate in two consecutive years. The promise that students are making are meant to drive them towards the future they want, despite how long it takes.

According to C4 Campaign and PTK, more than 3 million jobs are unfilled in the United States, because students are not obtaining the education or credentials needed. These jobs provide livable wages and yet they are unfilled. A college degree can close the gap between a student’s desired job and their current employment situation.

CCC Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Figgs expressed the importance of this pledge on Thursday, Oct. 30, at CCC’s C4 Initiative assembly. He said, “You’re still going to be wondering, ‘Am I going to get through these exams? Am I going to get through all these papers? Am I going to get through all of the course requirements?’ The answer is yes because you are committed.”

Your commitment is not only to graduation; it’s to your future. Some students are unsure of what they want to do after graduation or what they want to do with their degrees. Kewish said, “I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it [her degree]. I wasn’t sure I wanted to teach, but I knew literature was going to be my focus.” Kewish had switched majors four times in her first two years of college, but she graduated with a degree in an area she loved, even though she was unsure how she would use the degree.

Student Social Service major, and PTK chapter president, Chelsea Charlesworth, was asked why she thinks it’s important to graduate. She said, “I think college completion is important because when you’re in college you are actually getting educated, you’re not just receiving a piece of paper with your name on it, saying you have a degree in this or that. You’re also learning a lot about yourself, which is important too.”

The C4 Initiative is not a promise to know what you want to do with your degree or your life. It’s a promise that you will graduate. A student’s signature on a C4 form represents their determination, dedication and desire to graduate.