Apr 11, 2015 12:31 am

As a leader college for Achieving the Dream (ATD), Pierce College is more committed than ever to helping all students find success. ATD is a national nonprofit dedicated to helping community college students stay in school and earn a college degree or certificate.

Through its work with ATD, Pierce College is digging deep to learn the reasons why community colleges nationwide can lose as many as 20 to 30 percent of new students within the first week of school. Many of these colleges lose nearly 50 percent of these students after a full academic year, according to Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Tom Broxson. “Since community colleges have open admission, our students can be less prepared for higher education than others,” he said. “Our instructors understand this, and they are deliberate in their work to help students make it through those first couple weeks of class.”

Throughout the course of working with ATD, Pierce College has made a number of improvements to help more students be successful. All new students will soon be required to take the College Success course, which provides fundamental tools on how to be successful in college. Previously, only students who tested below college-level in at least one area would be required to take this course. “This is an important class, because it gives students the tools they need to do well in college,” Broxson said.

As a result of Pierce College’s dedication to student success, fall-to-fall quarter retention rates have improved by at least 8 percent during a three-year period. “We have seen steady progress with our retention each year,” he said. “We are all engaged with looking at our data, and we’re paying attention to these issues. Our retention improvements are showing that we’re right on track.”

ATD encourages evidence-based institutional improvement, and works with more than 200 institutions nationwide.