A new initiative launched by Daytona State College this past spring which automatically graduates students who have met the requirements for the Associate of Arts degree is featured in the first issue of A Community for Completion: Promising Practices to Increase Completion in the Florida College System.
The publication of the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Florida Colleges is intended to help institutions remove barriers to degree completion and promote best practices that foster student success.
While Daytona State’s “auto graduation” initiative is a labor-intensive process involving multiple college departments, it resulted in significant increases in graduation rates this past May, when an all-time high1,943 students graduated. Among them were as many as 150 program completers who were auto graduated, according to Associate Vice President for Enrollment and Student Development Richard Pastor.
Dr. Pastor noted that auto graduation stemmed from the college discovering that, while many students were accumulating enough AA credits to earn their degree, they were not applying for graduation. Also, many Associate of Science degree students had earned enough credits to automatically qualify for certificates. “This is very important in terms of reporting of our program completion numbers,” Pastor said. “It helps the college and it helps the AS student earn a credential along the way.”
The process originated in the college’s Office of Institutional Research, where a list of graduation-eligible students was generated and passed on to academic advisors, who performed degree audits on each student to verify that degree requirements had been met. The list was then sent to the graduation office for a final check before students were automatically graduated. Students who were auto graduated were then sent letters with instructions on how to obtain their diplomas. The process is outlined in more detail in the Division’s article.
While this year's numbers are still being tabulated, the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, last year ranked Daytona State in the top 100 among the nation’s 5,000-plus colleges in the awarding of associate degrees and certificates, including:
· Overall Associate Degrees (All Disciplines) – 37th
· All Associate Degree Disciplines (Non-Minority) – 23rd
· All Associate Degree Disciplines (African American) – 64th
· Associate Degrees in Communication Technologies/Technicians & Support Services – 10th
· Associate Degrees in Liberal Arts & Sciences/General Studies & Humanities – 21st
· Associate Degree Nursing – 47th
· One-Year Certificates (All Disciplines) – 72nd
· One-Year Certificates (Non-Minority) – 43rd