Kean University Joins NJEA and NJ’s Community Colleges to Help More Students Complete College

Follow NJC4 on Social Media using #NJC4

Kean University has joined the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ (NJCCC) Center for Student Success in the New Jersey Community College Completion Challenge (NJC4), a statewide effort to increase awareness about the importance of completing associate degrees and certificates.

NJC4 is an effort to increase the number of students at community colleges completing their associate degrees and certificates so that they can successfully transfer to four-year colleges and universities to earn their bachelor’s degrees, and enter careers that provide family-sustaining wages.

New Jersey’s 19 community colleges will hold a series of campus-based college completion activities during the week of Oct. 19 to 23. Events will follow the theme of “Accomplishing Your Dreams,” and will be both informational and social in nature with an emphasis on college completion and tools available to assist students in reaching their goals. Student leaders in Phi Theta Kappa, the international community college honor society, will organize these events at each of the 19 community colleges.

During the inaugural NJC4 event in 2013, over 11,000 students signed pledges to commit to complete their degrees and certificates. Last year, over 15,000 students signed pledges.

“We are excited about NJC4 at New Jersey’s 19 community colleges,” said NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli. “Partnering with the New Jersey Education Association and Kean University as a part of NJC4 helps us to inform students about the importance of staying in school to earn a college credential. Earning an associate degree gives students a leg up when transferring to a four-year college or university to earn a bachelor’s degree. For students looking to enter the workforce, having an associate degree or certificate can lead to a great job that pays a family sustaining wage.”

Kean University and the NJEA are providing grants to each Phi Theta Kappa chapter at the 19 community colleges to help offset the cost of NJC4 events and activities. In addition, all participating community colleges will receive a Community College Completion Toolkit provided by Pearson Higher Education that includes student pledge cards, faculty/staff pledge cards and signing banners.

“Associate degree completion is an important step on the path to receiving a bachelor’s degree, and Kean supports efforts that promote degree completion and student success,” said Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi.

“NJEA is happy to once again partner with New Jersey’s 19 community colleges to support the NJC4 initiative that encourages students to persevere, succeed and ultimately achieve the credentials necessary to be successful members of New Jersey’s workforce,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer.

NJC4 will include speakers, events and campus activities such as students signing pledges to complete their degrees or certificates and pledging to help fellow students complete degrees. Faculty and staff members are also asked by students to sign pledges to serve as Completion Champions to assist students in their completion efforts. Students will take part in various workshops, focused on study skills, leadership and résumé building. Other activities will include on the spot academic advising and faculty and staff appreciation events.

In two years, New Jersey has become a national leader in student completion initiatives. This past spring, Phi Theta Kappa recognized the New Jersey Center for Student Success for its efforts with the 2015 Outstanding Innovations Award for the NJC4 program and overall leadership in community college completion and transfer. Other states, including Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, are consulting with the New Jersey Center for Student Success to begin their own statewide community college completion initiatives.

The national Community College Completion Initiative began in April 2010 when leaders from the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community College Trustees, the League for Innovation in the Community College, and the Center for Community College Student Engagement signed Democracy’s Colleges: A Call to Action. Each of these organizations developed action plans and strategies to involve their constituents to produce 5 million more associate degree and certificate holders by 2020.

Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community college students, recognizes and encourages academic achievement of two-year college students and provides them with opportunities for individual growth and development through service, leadership, honors, and fellowship programs.

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges is the state association representing New Jersey’s 19 community colleges. As an independent, trustee-headed organization that joins the leadership of trustees and presidents, the Council is the voice of the community college sector before the state legislature and other branches of government.

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