Flathead Valley Community College saw a record graduation for the second year in a row, with 388 students receiving their degrees and certificates last Friday.
FVCC President Jane Karas credits the high number of graduates to several factors. Along with a boost in enrollment from a down economy, Karas said FVCC worked to improve its advising, counseling and student support services.
This increases the college’s retention rates, helping more students stick with their studies to fulfill their degree requirements, Karas said.
Growing graduation rates is a trend Karas predicts will continue in the near future, since the last several years have seen 1- to 3-percent enrollment increases.
“I think we’ll see our graduation rate increase slightly over the next few years,” Karas said.
The college’s enrollment rate increased dramatically after the recession hit the valley and laid-off workers went back to school. FVCC’s student population increased 33 percent from 2008 to 2009, and the college added over 230 new class sections to accommodate the growth.
This year’s 388 graduates overtook last year’s record number of 340, which was a huge increase from 2009’s graduating class of 200. The college is responding to its new students with more innovative programs and fresh opportunities, Karas said.
“More people who live in the valley and Northwest Montana understand the quality of education they can receive at a very affordable cost,” she said.
FVCC’s class of 2011 earned 128 Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, 156 Associate of Applied Science degrees and 43 certificates. FVCC will also recognize 39 graduates from the summer of 2010 and 71 fall of 2010 graduates for earning 111 degrees and certificates, totaling 438 degrees and certificates awarded this year.
In addition, the college graduated its largest class in the practical nursing program, with 17 students receiving their pins. This year also marks the first class to complete the college’s Scholar Program, which provides students with smooth transitions into the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana or the University Honors Program at Montana State University.
The Scholars Program is a multi-discipline, academically challenging curriculum in which students must maintain a 3.4 GPA, at least 30 hours of service learning each academic year and complete three program courses.
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