HARRISBURG – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon made her 11th Complete College Tour stop today at Southeastern Illinois College and met with faculty and administrators to discuss the college’s current completion rates and future goals.
Simon announced earlier this year that Illinois leaders want to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent from 41 percent by 2025. By touring the state’s 48 community colleges, Simon is able to see the successes at each campus, while also compiling ideas to overcome each college’s roadblocks to completion.
“Illinois is committed to having the best-educated workforce, and the only way to accomplish that is to ensure that our students have the resources to earn a degree or certificate,” Simon said.
Southeastern is working with local and regional employers to offer programs that will better serve the community’s needs and bolster local business. The nationally-certified Diesel Technology program is the only one of its kind at an Illinois community college and students have the option to gain hands-on experience through internships with companies like Caterpillar, Ford and John Deere. Since its inception in 1999 the program has served approximately 700 students.
“Southeastern has been called an oasis of opportunity in our region,” Jonah Rice, Southeastern Illinois College President, said. “Given our recent ranking by the Aspen Institute as a top 10% community college in the nation for our success in retention and completion, we feel our good work has been validated. We take great pride in being in the best community college system in the nation and are fortunate that we have leaders at the helm in our great state that understand the importance of community colleges like Southeastern Illinois College.”
In addition to the Diesel Technology program, Southeastern is looking to implement other programs to further support degree and certificate completion. Over 60% of high school students that took a spring 2011 placement test placed into developmental math. In order to get caught up to college-level work, these students must take remedial courses and thereby spend time and money on work that will not even count to the student’s degree. The college already offers free peer tutoring, but new grants have allowed for a Student Success Facilitator to be hired on campus to provide individual developmental instruction when needed. Not only will assistance be provided with basic skills, but the facilitator will also serve as an additional resource should the student need guidance, and as a motivator to ensure students progress through remedial classes quickly in order to reach coursework relevant to the degree.
“Community colleges are an affordable and valued higher education option for Illinois students,” Simon said. “We must continue to foster an environment of success where students can complete their degrees and certificates in a cost- and time-efficient manner."