According to a study conducted by the Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2018, “63% of all American job openings will require some sort of postsecondary education. While employers will need nearly 22 million new workers with postsecondary degrees, colleges will fall short of that mark by 3 million graduates.”
Several organizations and agencies have developed schemes to stimulate college entrance and completion rates within the US. These agencies, ranging from the publicly-funded Department of Education to the student-led Community College Completion Corps, are tackling the problem with postsecondary education through various means. This article will provide an overview on several prominent organizations which are spearheading the effort to improve postsecondary success in the United States in the coming years.
US Department of Education
The US Department of Education was created in 1980 as a means of “promoting student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” Although the Department of Education supports every step of the education process, the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) specifically funds projects to improve college entrance and graduation rates.
Led by Eduardo M. Ochoa, assistant secretary of postsecondary education, the OPE is made up of several major components:
- Higher Education Programs is the branch which focuses on distributing grants and administering programs which broadens access to higher education. This department includes the Institutional Service, which oversees programs to improve the institutional sustainability of higher education systems and the State and Student services, which work with the respective organizations to develop local institutions to facilitate broad access to education for all students.
- The Policy, Planning, and Innovation branch is responsible for using data to devise and forecast budgets for programs operated by the OPE. Like the Higher Education Programs branch, the Policy, Planning, and Innovation operates several committees, including the Accreditation Group, Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, and Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation. Through focusing on financial sustainability, the branch administers the review process for accrediting postsecondary education institutions along with providing recommendations to the Secretary of Education on reforms and developments in teh accreditation process.
- Finally, the International and Foreign Language Education branch recognizes the utility of learning foreign languages and developing cultural awareness in today’s global economy. This branch administers both domestic and overseas programs in order to promote international understanding among students.
Community College Completion Corps
The Community College Completion Corps is a student-led organization to improve graduation rates among community college students. Through Phi Theta Kappa, its active honor’s society, the organization’s main initiatives are hosting events to promote community college students to “pledge” to graduate on time. As you can see from the events page, individual chapters across the country routinely host such events in addition to partnering with academics and organizations to organize seminars and college planning sessions.
Knowledge is Power Program
Started in 1994, the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is a national network of public K-12 schools preparing low-income students with the skills needed to succeed in college. Originally as an institution created with the goal to send low-income students to college, KIPP’s mission today is to leverage its vast network of students, alumni, teachers, and administrators to promote college graduation among its students.
According to a Time Magazine article, KIPP’s 95% high school graduation rate for high school students is driven by the organization’s focus on pushing students to work hard with the goal of gaining the necessary skills needed for college. What’s even more commendable is that KIPP doesn’t sell its mission short; its main focus remains on the college completion rates of its students, which currently sits at 33%. Although KIPP has not reached its goal of a 75% college completion rate of its alumni, the current rate of 33% dwarfs the national average of 8% for students with similar demographics.