Glen Oaks Community College News Article (generic - no featured image)

Student success equals increased individual and regional economic success

In a 2012 report entitled: “Family Income and Unequal Educational Opportunity 1970 to 2011”, there
is solid evidence presented concerning how the relationship between a person’s family and economic
background relates to his or her future educational success. “In 2011 an estimated 27.5 percent of 24
year olds had completed a bachelor’s degree from higher education.” (Page 1) But the data are
deceiving. For example, a 24-year old student who was born into the top quartile of family income was
almost seven times more likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree than was another 24-year old
student who had been born into the bottom quartile of family income.” (Page 1) The report goes on to
state that, “in 2011 the students from the top quartile of family income had a bachelor’s degree
attainment rate of 71.2 percent. (Page 1) “The students from the bottom quartile of family income had
a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 10.4 percent.” (Page 1)

The reason that these data are important in St. Joseph County and to our region is that educational
attainment here is well below the national norm and Michigan levels. These local data are also directly
reflective of the economic levels within the region. How can Glen Oaks help to change the region’s
educational level and therefore, the economic success of individuals and businesses? In the past year,
the college readiness program entitled, “St. Joseph College Access Network” has been introduced in all
county K-12 schools. This program is partially funded by the county and grew out of the “Sturgis
Success” program. The goal of the program is to help all county high school students become
knowledgeable about the steps required to apply to college, complete the financial aid application
(FAFSA), provide guidance on career exploration, and share information on sources for scholarships.
Even with these efforts, the county college attendance and completion rates are markedly low. Glen
Oaks is committed to help change this situation.

The success of the students who do begin college at Glen Oaks continues to be lower than desired. To
address the issue, such initiatives as Dual Enrollment and Early/Middle College have been established
to aid in high school students earning college credit. The college faculty and staff are working to
increase student success via a number of practices including launching a “First Year Experience”
course that will help students learn to be in charge of their educational pathway and become more
successful students. Other strategies include aggressive support for students who need help with math
and writing skills, career planning, study skills, support systems and more.

Glen Oaks serves the greater St. Joseph County region for many mission reasons but the greatest is to
help students achieve their goals by adding value to their lives through education. The results will
enable them to be successful in their careers, families and communities. For the past 50 years, Glen
Oaks Community College has served its mission well, but now there is a renewed dedication to help
move the county from the historic lower education attainment to levels that will make a significant
economic impact and improve the lives of students and their families.

David H. Devier
June 22, 2015