The value of any community college to a student lies in their ability to provide not just opportunity, but equity of opportunity. Without understanding that students are individuals who chose our institution for unique reasons, we can fool ourselves into assuming that all students are alike.
Where they come from, how they got here, and what their plans are for their future are all factors that influence a student from their very first day of class to the moment they receive their degree at graduation.
I am proud to say that at Tallahassee Community College (TCC), we provide an environment designed to help all students thrive. You may have heard about our recent ranking as a top ten community college in the nation for our focus on college affordability, an impressive return on investment and a high success rate among our graduates. As access and success are strategic priorities for our College, we have worked hard to keep tuition low while maintaining the quality of our instruction, and this ranking demonstrates we are on target.
We know that a student’s success at TCC often starts before they ever arrive at our doors.
During this week’s Board of Trustees meeting, several important leaders representing eight different College divisions or programs in Gadsden County presented on each of their respective areas – from the Florida Public Safety Institute (FPSI) to the Quincy House to Workforce Development. Collectively, these organizations serve thousands of individuals ranging in age from middle school students to seniors.
Why so many programs and why are they so important?
Gadsden is a county that faces many challenges. As of this past December, the unemployment rate stood at 6.1%, nearly a full percentage point higher than the state and national average. The school district has the 16th highest high school drop-out rate in the state. According to the 2010 census, about one in four people were below the poverty line, and nearly one in three subsist on public assistance and supplemental security income.
During the presentation it was mentioned that last year FPSI welcomed over 4,000 students and 20,000 visitors to its campus, and they are currently partnering with 32 different law enforcement agencies across the state with plans to expand their national and international training.
The College Reach Out Program (CROP) and Take Stock in Children (TSIC) programs offered through the college serve nearly 100 middle and high school students with advising, mentoring and scholarships. In 2014, 100% of those who participated graduated from high school and 88% now attend TCC. The Educational Talent Search program serves nearly 500 of the same age, most from low-income, disadvantaged households and they also saw a high school graduation rate of 70% last year with 80% going on to TCC. By comparison, Gadsden County graduation rate overall was 56%.
We have also broken ground on a new Gadsden Center in Quincy which, when it opens later this year, will further support both the academic and the workforce sides of the house. The important point is that we are putting down permanent roots in Gadsden and we are making a difference.
View the full presentation here.
These facts and figures do not adequately convey the tremendous amount of work that is done to make each area a success. What we accomplish through the leadership of our talented men and women who deliver these programs is more than a job, it’s a passion and as Trustee Kilpatrick put it, “pride.”
TCC has made a commitment to finding solutions and making a difference in Gadsden County. Federal grants expire and there will always be adversities to overcome, but with the help and cooperation of County officials and the School Board, I believe we can continue to impact our community in a positive way. Let’s keep moving forward.