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Local News

JJC improves retention, graduation rates under enrollment plan

Joliet Junior College's main campus.
Joliet Junior College's main campus.

JOLIET – Joliet Junior College is making progress on a three-year plan to improve the rates of student enrollment and retention, as well as degree and certificate earners. 

While the college has not improved enrollment in the first year of its strategic enrollment management plan, it has improved the overall fall-to-spring retention rate – otherwise known as a persistence – and its number of graduates. 

The JJC Board of Trustees adopted the plan in May 2014. According to an executive summary of the plan, higher education institutions nationwide are using strategic enrollment plans for improvement.

Yolanda Isaacs, interim academic affairs vice president, presented an update to the plan to JJC trustees during a May 26 workshop. 

Under the plan, the three-year data targets include boosting student enrollment by 2.2 percent, increasing persistence by 1 percent, increasing the fall-to-fall retention rate by 1 percent and increasing the number of students who complete a certificate or a degree by 11.9 percent.

Isaacs showed trustees the results of the first year of the plan, with a 9.5 percent decrease in enrollment, a 2.6 percent increase in persistence and increases in the number of students with a certificate or degree by 3.3 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively. 

Numbers for the fall-to-fall retention rate won’t be available until the fall semester. 

Isaacs said the college continues to “struggle a little with enrollment,” but it is faring well compared to other colleges. 

“What’s more important to remember for our first-year initiatives, we talked about retention, we talked about persistence, our initiatives were focused on those aspects,” she said. 

The plan's first year was focused on “retention-driven” initiatives to improve student orientation, academic intervention, academic advising and awarding degrees. Next year’s focus will be on enrollment, Isaacs said. 

JJC plans to strengthen its marketing and developmental education in the second year. The college also will continue the projects began in the first year to improve retention rates.

Board Trustee Andy Mihelich said at the meeting the strategic enrollment plan is an initiative he’s always wanted to see the board pursue. 

“I’m very pleased with the outcome so far, but I want to ensure that it even gets better,” he said.

Board Chair Jeff May said the plan is in response to JJC President Debra Daniels’ plan for larger numbers of college graduates. With the exception of enrollment, he said, the college has “made progress in many areas.”

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