Finish what you start

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, November 20, 2014

Completing a college degree or certificate is one of the most important steps a student can make toward success, said Alabama Community College System Chancellor Dr. Mark Heinrich at an event held Monday at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia.


“Success in achieving the American dream is tied to education,” said Heinrich. “The completion agenda is to double the number of students by 2020 who complete a degree or certificate program. I am here to encourage students to finish what they started.”


The “Community College Completion Challenge” is a national education initiative and sponsored locally by the Alpha Beta Eta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society.


“If we are not successful, it will have a direct impact on this country,” said Heinrich of the completion agenda. “At one point, we were the first in the world in the number of college graduates, and we are currently sixteenth.”


In addition to engaging students to sign the completion pledge, faculty and staff are also encouraged to participate.


“I suggest every student make a significant connection to someone, whether another student, faculty member, or other staff. Everybody needs to be part of the completion process.”


Heinrich offered three suggestions to help students be successful, such as becoming part of a “learning community” where students who share interests can learn together and help each other succeed. Another avenue to success is project-based learning, allowing students to take what they learn in the classroom and use it in real-world applications. Finally, he suggested high school students be involved in dual enrollment so they can get a head start with their college goals.


Students who complete a degree or certificate will earn an average of $500,000 more over the course of their careers than their peers who did not complete. In addition, individuals with credentials are less likely to become unemployed than their co-workers who did not earn credentials.


The one thing Heinrich said students should take away from his remarks is that, even if they do not yet fully know all the benefits of completion, they should finish what they started.


For more information on the educational initiative, call 334-881-2282 or email