Students perform well at Mississippi’s junior colleges

Published 7:00 am Friday, March 6, 2015

Last week, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released its annual state-level college completion study for community colleges, universities and non-profit institutions, a press release states.
According to the release, the report revealed that students at Mississippi’s community colleges completed their associate degree at a higher rate than others in the nation.
The total completion rate during the 6-year observation at Mississippi community colleges was 46.01 percent, which is fifth nationally, the release states. The total completion for the United States was 39.13 percent during that same time frame.
The study also showed that full-time students graduate at a higher level, the release states. More than 68 percent of full-time students in Mississippi graduated, which ranked fourth in the nation. The national completion rate for full-time students was 57 percent.
“All Mississippi community colleges have made a strong commitment to help our students complete their degrees,” Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Board Dr. Eric Clark said in the release. “The recent report issued by the National Clearinghouse shows that students who start their higher education at one of our state’s community colleges do better than the national average when it comes to finishing their degrees. According to the study, our 15 community colleges’ total completion rate is ranked fifth in the country. This has been done through great cooperation between our community colleges and our public universities. When a student earns an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, that person and all of Mississippi benefits.”
Vice-president of economic and community development at Pearl River Community College Scott Alsobrooks said that Mississippi has one of the oldest community college systems in the nation.
“Our state may rank last in a number of areas,” Alsobrooks said. “But, in my mind, our community colleges are at the top. PRCC has received numerous national accolades over the years. The school has a long history of performing well and of giving our students the credentials, training and foundation for both the workplace and university.”
Alsobrooks said that students who transfer from PRCC to a university perform as well or better than university students.
One reason, he said, is the small class sizes at the junior college. The average class student to teacher ratio is twenty to one.
“Our teachers are 100 percent devoted to teaching,” Alsobrooks said. “Their sole purpose is helping our students get an education. There is a lot of one-on-one teaching in our classrooms.”
Additionally, the college keeps a close eye on student enrollment, Alsobrooks said. Research shows that students who garner an excessive amount of absences won’t pass their classes, he said.
PRCC also offers student skills labs, where students having difficulties with studying and homework can be tutored and join a study group, Alsobrooks said.
“On the vocational side, we have programs designed to secure jobs for students, “Alsobrooks said. “The school is measured by how many we graduate and how many secure employment. This week, the college hosted a career fair and representatives from more than 50 companies met with and interviewed students. Having PRCC in our county and state is a huge asset.”
Learn more about PRCC at

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