National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Fall/Winter 2014, Volume 15, Number 2.


Copyright © 2014 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


For better or worse, longitudinal studies that track student persistence each semester serve as the primary measurement of an institution’s success or, as the findings are often received at many of the country’s community colleges, an institution’s failure. These studies take place at the institutional and state-wide levels as well as nationally through grant-based organizations such as Complete College America. At the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), where I have served as a faculty member and honors program director for the past eight years, these studies consistently reveal low college-wide retention and graduation rates. According to Maryland’s state-wide longitudinal approach, even after discarding the statistics of students who attempt fewer than eighteen credits, barely two of five CCBC degree-seeking students graduate or transfer within four years (CCBC, “accountability report”). Accordingly, discussion of success rates often strikes a tone somewhere between apologetic and mournful.