The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

October 10, 2013

Data: Retention low at Iowa community colleges

DES MOINES — Statistics show fewer students return for a second year at Iowa’s community colleges than in other Midwestern states, but officials say they’re working to change that.

Iowa’s retention rate of 49.9 percent means just half of the students are returning. The rate is also lower than the national average of 53 percent, The Des Moines Register reported. Federal data from 2010 shows Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin have higher retention rates.

Iowa’s 15 community colleges have implemented new programs in recent years to boost retention, including mandatory orientation classes and a more aggressive outreach to struggling students. School leaders have also started meeting once a year to discuss ways to improve retention and graduation rates.

“The loss is the lost potential of a person who doesn’t finish,” said Des Moines Area Community College President Robert Denson. “The more education and skills you have, the more ability you have to command a higher wage,” he told the newspaper.

Data from Iowa Workforce Development show only a third of the state’s adults qualify for the growing number of jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. The Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., shows the lifetime earnings of a typical college graduate is about $650,000 more than for a high school graduate.

Results from the new retention programs have been mixed in Iowa but more successful in nearby states like Wisconsin, where the student retention rate is 58 percent. Retention programs have also been successful in states outside the region, including Florida. Broward College in the Fort Lauderdale area, which launched retention programs in 2003, had a student retention rate of 66 percent in 2009, a jump from 57 percent in 2006.

DMACC’s retention rate has remained around 50 percent since at least 2007, but some programs show promise. A mandatory orientation class that debuted in fall 2012 shows 89 percent of students who passed the class enrolled for the spring semester, compared with 66 percent who did not take the class.

In 2009, Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids began contacting students who showed signs of academic struggles. And a new one-day orientation introduces students to faculty, advisers and other school resources.

“I do think it’s a challenge to get them to come in,” said Bobbi Miller, the college’s associate dean of students. “But once they come in, they appreciate that somebody is willing to sit down and talk with them,”

Text Only
AP story section
  • Iraq violence threatens OPEC's precarious balance NEW YORK (AP) -- The oil market has balanced out quite nicely for OPEC in recent years. Now, upheaval in Iraq shows that balance may be more precarious than it has seemed. Dramatic changes in oil production around the globe have offset each other ins

    June 13, 2014

  • Board of Trade Grain mixed, livestock mostly higher CHICAGO (AP) -- Grain futures were mixed Thursday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for July delivery was 1 cent higher at $5.9025 a bushel; July corn was 1.25 cents lower at $4.4075 a bushel; July oats were unchanged at $3.4625 a

    June 13, 2014

  • Health campaign among nation's costliest CHICAGO -- President Barack Obama's home state agreed to spend $33 million in federal money promoting his health care law, hiring a high-priced public relations firm for work that initially was mocked and spending far more per enrollee on television

    June 13, 2014

  • Some states roll back teacher tenure protections WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even before a judge's scathing ruling against California's teacher tenure policies, the once-sacred protections that make it harder to fire teachers already had been weakened in many states -- and even removed altogether in some pl

    June 13, 2014

  • Tigers' Scherzer outduels Sale CHICAGO -- Max Scherzer already has a Cy Young Award. Now he has a complete game. Scherzer tossed a three-hitter in his 179th career start for his first complete game and Victor Martinez hit his 16th homer to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 4-0 win over

    June 13, 2014

  • $40M casino for rural Iowa approved BURLINGTON (AP) -- The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted 3-2 to grant a license for a $40 million casino development that would be located in rural central Iowa. Supporters of the Jefferson casino burst into applause during a meeting in Bur

    June 13, 2014

  • Principal case leads to two hearings RED OAK -- Two hearings are planned related to a southwest Iowa school district's plan to fire a high school principal. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reported the effort to fire Red Oak High School Principal Jedd Sherman will be the subject of a

    June 13, 2014

  • U.S. split outgrows voting booth WASHINGTON (AP) -- Political polarization in America has broken out of the voting booth. A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds Americans are divided by ideology and partisanship not only when they cast ballots, but also in choosing where to

    June 13, 2014

  • Cubs' offense no help for Samardzija PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Samardzija has some advice his pitching brethren when it comes to facing streaking Andrew McCutchen. Don't. The way the Chicago Cubs' ace looks at it, trying to get the Pittsburgh Pirates' star out at the moment only opens yourself

    June 13, 2014

  • State to reopen Juvenile Home DES MOINES -- A district court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home, telling Gov. Terry Branstad he cannot unilaterally change a law approved by the state Legislature. Judge Scott Rosenberg said the home in Toledo was

    February 6, 2014

AP Video
National News