Snead State Community College: College Completion Agenda

Shelley Smith
Member Spotlight

Snead State Community College launched the College Completion Agenda in 2010 to encourage student success with the ultimate goal of earning an associate degree. The initiative became the one thing at the college that drives everything faculty and staff do to encourage student success.

Snead State was the first two-year college in Alabama to sign on to the College Completion Agenda, which developed out of a Call to Action signed by six key educational organizations: Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, American Association of Community College, Association of Community College Trustees, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), League for Innovation in the Community College, and Center for Community College Student Engagement. The Call to Action was a direct response to President Barack Obama’s challenge to community colleges to produce an additional 5 million certificates and associate degrees by 2020.

The College Completion Agenda was embraced campuswide at Snead State, becoming part of the college’s strategic plan. Students were introduced to the value of the associate degree from their first day of orientation, and graduating with the credential was emphasized during their entire time at Snead State. The college actively identified and removed barriers that hindered students from pursuing a degree.

Since launching the College Completion Agenda, Snead State has steadily increased its graduation rate. In 2010, 368 degrees and certificates were awarded, putting the college’s official graduation rate at 26 percent. The state average at this time was 22 percent, and the national average was 33 percent.

In 2014, Snead State’s graduation rate climbed to 32 percent, topping the national rate by 1 percent and the state rate by 14 percent. Data on graduation rates for 2015 and 2016 are not yet available, but in 2016, 410 degrees and certificates were earned by Snead State students.

“The increase comes from educating students on the value of a community college education. Our entire college shares this message with potential and current students, and the advising process has been changed so that College Completion Agenda is at the heart of how we help students,” said Snead State President Dr. Robert Exley.

Now, rather than being a goal in the strategic plan, the College Completion Agenda has become the way of life for Snead State. The initiative is a continuation of the college’s excellence in education philosophy, which began when it was founded in 1898.

The effort by faculty and staff to incorporate the initiative into all aspects of their jobs is reflected in the success of students.

“Everyone I have met through Snead and at Snead is so nice. The teachers and staff have been very helpful and have worked with me to make it possible for me to graduate. For that I am truly thankful.” said Carrie-Ann Brewster of Arab.

Emilie Johnson of Attalla noted, “Snead State is an amazing school! I have loved being a student there. Everyone at Snead really wants to help you and see you succeed in life.”

Many of the faculty and staff share about the value of an associate degree because they earned one themselves. Forty-five employees have an associate degree, and of those, 36 obtained their degree from Snead State.

Opinions expressed in Member Spotlight are those of the author(s) and/or submitting college and do not necessarily reflect those of the League for Innovation in the Community College.