WV College Grad Rates At All Time Low

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Getting more college students walking across the stage, that's the goal of a new task force.

"The state is mandating fewer credit hours for particular degrees. They're limiting two year associate degrees to 60 and four year degrees to 120 credit hours," says VP of Student Services for WVU-P, Anthony Underwood.

More diplomas in the mountain state is a top priority for education officials.

"College success is absolutely vital for West Virginia going forward. We need to graduate 20 thousand more people than we do right now just to stay even in terms of economic development"

Right now, out of every 100 students enrolled in the ninth grade in West Virginia, only 17 will earn a two or four year degree within ten years. That means there's an average of 83 students that don't have college degrees.

"I think sometimes the students don't realize the level of commitment college requires. I think sometimes they, like myself, come from backgrounds where college is not a common thing."

To improve the grad rates, the task force is looking into shortening the time it takes to graduate. That's because one reason for college dropouts could the difficulty of switching schools.

"Sometimes when they transfer, they lose some of their credits. At WVU-P, because we are the only community college in the states that are allowed to offer four year programs, many of our two year programs fold directly into four year programs. So the students are guaranteed to not lose any of their study time."

But college enrollment isn't the the problem. It's getting students to stay in college, and improving the only 40 percent of students that actually complete their degrees.

"Our completion rate, those are people that finish their goal, finish their degree is over seven percent higher here than the state average. So we all have a lot of room to improve but WVU-P has done a lot to improve."

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