Campus & Community

PBSC climbs to eighth highest producer of associate degrees in the country

8inthenationWith its graduation rates on the rise, Palm Beach State College is now the eighth largest producer of associate degree graduates in the U.S., climbing three notches from last year’s ranking, according to Community College Week.

The annual Top 100 rankings by the education publication show that Palm Beach State awarded 4,598 degrees in the 2012-2013 academic year, a 9 percent hike over the previous year. The College also saw a similar graduation spike in the previous year.

Palm Beach State rose above Kaplan University- Davenport Campus and Colorado Technical College, both private schools that ranked higher last year, as well as Keiser University –Ft. Lauderdale, with whom PBSC tied for the 11th spot last year. However, among the 28 public colleges in the Florida College System which dominate the top spots in the rankings, PBSC remains the fifth largest producer of associate degrees.

The news comes as PBSC has implemented a completion agenda that puts more emphasis on completion rates and additional resources to address barriers to graduation. They include early intervention programs to help students facing academic and attendance challenges. The College also has put more focus on the educational planning process to ensure students take appropriate courses for their degree and on new scholarships and financial aid opportunities. Two years ago, the College began automatically graduating students who complete all of the requirements for their degrees, but transfer to a university or enter the workforce without applying for graduation.

“We are putting a lot of emphasis on student success,” said Dr. Peter Barbatis, vice president of student services and enrollment management. “Palm Beach State College is committed to supporting our students’ completion of their program of study and preparing them for further education or the workforce.”

To develop its Top 100 listings, which were published Aug. 18, Community College Week analyzed data for the 2012-2013 academic year for institutions that offer associate degrees and certificates.  Community College Week’s analysis uses data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Set (IPEDS) completions survey.

PBSC also is ninth in the nation in the number of associate degrees awarded to minorities, compared to 13th last year. It is 8th in the nation in the number of associate degrees awarded specifically to African Americans, compared to 14th the previous year. It also ranks 12th for the number awarded to Hispanics, rising from 19th.

Barbatis said the hikes are in line with the changing demographics of the student population at the College, which is no longer a majority institution. “We’re becoming a more diverse student body, and as a result we’re having higher graduation rates, and they [minorities] do well. The support is here.”

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