After finishing another convocation celebration, Lakeland College is ready to celebrate a successful 2014-15 school year that was capped by a 93 per cent graduation rate between the Vermilion and Lloydminster campuses.
“I would attribute that to a number of different initiatives that we’ve implemented to improve retention rates, including early alert systems, better support and services to students and those kinds of things,” said Lakeland College VP academic Michael Crowe.
Those early alert systems involved class instructors filing assessments early in the semester to help identify which students may need academic support in that course. Support and services, meanwhile, included the college expanding its peer tutoring program and putting out new study skills resources online.
The 93 per cent figure marks a four per cent uptick from last year’s rate and is part of a very positive overall picture for the school that just graduated 680 students.
“Success for Lakeland College is complex and it factors in a lot of different measures,” Crowe said. “But on every one of them, I think we can demonstrate that we are moving forward as a college and I think we are providing effective training to people in our region and from beyond our region.”
The first of four tangible measures, he says, is “learner’s success.”
“What are our graduation rates? What are our retention statistics and how do we perform in those areas?” Crowe said, with retention referring to the number of students that stay at the school from one year to the next, before graduating. “We would also look to employment rates and those kinds of things as well.”
Crowe says the school also looks at its applications and enrolments and how the college’s programs suit the current labour market.
“Lakeland College was named one of the top 20 research colleges in all of Canada this year, we’re really proud of that,” he said. “Our application statistics for this fall are trending about 15 per cent higher than they were at this time last year.”
Part of the increased application can be attributed to the downturn in the economy, as a dry job market generally encourages people to find a productive alternative to working.
“But I also think we’ve done pretty well at maintaining a set of programs that address some of our regional labour market needs,” Crowe said. “It’s the type of programming that students are looking for in terms of preparing for careers.”
The third measure involves the institution’s relationships with business and industry in the region and their involvements on campus and with the school’s initiatives.
Crowe singled out Husky and New Holland as two companies the school has formed a strong bond with.
The last measure is sustainability, for which Crowe points to philosophies implemented by new CEO Alice Wainwright-Stewart and the balanced budget put forth by the school.
“We’ve been able to balance our budget without any loss of permanent employees.”
Said Crowe later on, “we think we’re in great shape.”