College of Southern Maryland
College of Southern Maryland

Finding near completers and getting them to the next stage

Challenge

Boost graduation rates and help students earn degrees or credentials

Results
  • Improved graduation rate, from 13 percent to 28 percent
  • Streamlined institutional processes
  • Gained better and more accurate insights into institutional data

With the help of technology, the College of Southern Maryland found creative ways to boost graduation rates.

Graduation rates are the holy grail when it comes to metrics. It’s the yardstick against which any community college must measure itself, and it’s the one number—if low or steadily dropping—that can spur serious action on campus.

When the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) found itself wrestling with chronically low graduation rates, it began to look for ways to reverse the trend. “Just like many community colleges, we were struggling with our graduation rate for our first-time, full-time degree and certificate- seeking students,” says Carol Harrison, registrar at the College of Southern Maryland.

CSM determined that one of the prevailing reasons why its graduation rate was low is because many students simply don’t understand where they are in the educational journey. They may not be aware of how many credits they have—or how close they may be to completing a degree or a certificate.

Many students may simply transfer to another institution, without realizing that they’ve done the work needed to graduate from the community college with a recognized degree or certification. And that directly impacts the institution’s graduation rates. In order to combat its flagging completion rates, CSM leveraged its campus technology to examine which students were leaving credentials or certificates on the table, and how close they were to completing one.

I think this is something a lot of institutions will eventually adopt. The benefits are just too great.

Carol Harrison, Registrar, College of Southern Maryland

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