Iowa Central graduation rate reaches new high

Reports shows figure is best in 20 years

-Messenger file photo
Iowa Central Community College welcomed students back for the fall semester in August 2023. Iowa Central has announced graduation rates at the institution are a 20-year high.

Iowa Central Community College has announced graduation rates at the institution are at a 20-year high.

In a report released to the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System (IPEDS), Iowa Central’s two-year graduation completion rate for 2023 was 44 percent, a 7 percent increase from 2022’s rate of 37 percent.

“This achievement correlates to the numerous investments we have made at Iowa Central into our employees, programs and facilities which impacts student achievement,” said Iowa Central Community College President Jesse Ulrich.

Stacy Mentzer, vice president of instruction at Iowa Central, reported the 44 percent was the highest two-year graduation rate since 2005’s 40 percent.

IPEDS data shows that Iowa Central’s five-year average is 7 percent higher than comparison group institutions’ two-year graduation rates.

Three-and four-year graduation rates also increased by 4 percent in 2023.

“Our graduation numbers are phenomenal,” said Mentzer. “The efforts that we put forth for student success at Iowa Central are really paying off.”

Mentzer credits programs such as Guided Pathways, which allows students who are undecided on a program of study to take classes and discover a career path while earning credit toward graduation, as a contributor to Iowa Central’s success.

“This tool allows students who are undecided on a program to take classes that will help them discover a career path and count towards graduation,” said Mentzer. “It is a win-win because students earn college credits that are helpful as they decide on a program they want to be in.”

A new system to monitor student progress has also played a key role in recent achievements, according to college leaders.

Advising staff and faculty are notified when a student is not making it to class or falling behind in their work. The system allows Iowa Central’s team to re-engage students and help them get back on track.

“Our faculty has done a lot of work with student engagement; including training and learning about other tools that can help keep students successful in the classroom,” said Ulrich. “Essentially, we can step in and seek out a student to ask them how we can help them succeed.”

Ulrich said he is proud of faculty and staff for taking the initiative to contribute to student and institutional success while fulfilling Iowa Central’s mission for students to finish their degree or certification in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of student loan debt possible, so they can have a better life.

“We have heavily focused on the student experience at Iowa Central and providing systems of support to both our students and faculty,” Ulrich said. “It’s rewarding to see this victory for our college knowing that our faculty and staff have put tremendous effort into student success.”


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