Second Annual Community College Completion Challenge to Help Students Finish College

The New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ (NJCCC) Center for Student Success has partnered with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) for the second consecutive year for New Jersey’s statewide Phi Theta Kappa Community College Completion Challenge (NJC4), a statewide effort to increase awareness about the importance of completing associate degrees and certificates.

All 19 community colleges across the state will host a series of campus-based college completion activities during the week of Oct. 27 to 31. The second annual NJC4 initiative culminates at the Phi Theta Kappa Middle States Region Honors in Action Conference at Bergen Community College in Lyndhurst on Saturday, Nov. 1.

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

As a result of last year’s inaugural NJC4 statewide event, 11,525 students signed pledges to commit to complete their degrees and certificates, and 5,679 faculty and staff members signed pledges to serve as completion champions for students. This year’s event will incorporate CollegeFish.org, a website designed to help students transfer to four-year colleges and universities.

“We are excited about NJC4 at New Jersey’s 19 community colleges,” said NJCCC President Dr. Lawrence A. Nespoli. “The addition of CollegeFish to the initiative will only enhance the program and allow us to help the students make accurate, informed decisions when planning to transfer to four-year colleges and universities to earn their bachelor’s degrees.”

In addition to CollegeFish, the NJCCC has once again partnered with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) for NJC4. NJEA is providing $500 grants to each community college Phi Theta Kappa chapter to help offset the cost of NJC4 activities.

“The NJEA is proud to once again partner with New Jersey’s 19 community colleges to support this statewide initiative that aims to encourage students to persevere, succeed and ultimately earn the credentials they need to succeed in New Jersey’s workforce,” said NJEA President Wendell Steinhauer.

The NJC4 initiative will include speakers, events and campus activities such as students signing pledges to complete their credentials and/or degrees and agreeing to help other students complete college. Students will ask faculty members and staff members to sign pledges to serve as Completion Champions to aid them in their completion efforts. There will be opportunities to engage students in civic engagement programs such as campus tutoring. Other activities include faculty and peer-to-peer advising, résumé building workshops, discussions on career pathways, faculty and staff appreciation programs, degree audits, and social activities.

Phi Theta Kappa student leadership teams at each of the state’s community colleges will head the initiative. Each chapter will design its own campus-based program fitting the needs of its specific college campus. In addition, all colleges participating will receive a C4 Toolkit provided by Pearson Higher Education. The toolkits provide student pledge cards, faculty/staff pledge cards and signing banners. You can follow NJC4 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #NJC4.

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. The Community College Completion Challenge website, www.cccompletionchallenge.org and C4 website www.cccompletioncorps.org showcase the missions, action plans and strategies developed by each organization to involve their constituents to produce 5 million more associate degree and certificate holders by 2020.

Phi Theta Kappa is the international honor society for community college students. Its mission is to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students and provide 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. The Council is also the state coordinating organization for all community colleges in New Jersey.

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