Sheridan College Seeks to Improve Graduation Rates

Sheridan College Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Heath, left, and Gillette College Vice President Mark Englert talk about graduation rates and efforts to help students stay in school. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Sheridan College Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Heath, left, and Gillette College Vice President Mark Englert talk about graduation rates and efforts to help students stay in school. (Photo by Pat Blair)

Sheridan College and its Gillette and Johnson County campuses have the highest graduation rates in the state and in the nation, but the goal is to raise those numbers even higher. Sheridan College Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Heath said in 2009 – the most recent year for which figures are available – 27 percent of students graduated from Sheridan College or one of its satellite campuses. That's higher than state or national averages, but the goal is to raise those numbers more.

When Wyoming's legislature meets next month, lawmakers will consider a proposed $14.3 million to be allocated to the state's seven community colleges over the next two years that would be used to help the colleges help their students stay in school. Gillette Campus Vice President Mark Englert says part of the conversation is how to get students through their first year of math and English sooner.

He outlined other steps the three colleges are taking to help students stay
in school.

The Northern Wyoming Community College District – which administers Sheridan College and the Gillette and Johnson County campuses – would receive just under $3 million of the total two-year allocation. The funds are based on the number of full-time equivalent students attending classes, a number that includes both full-time and part-time students. Average enrollment at the three campuses last year was just over 1,300 full-time and just under 3,200 part-time.

The two vice presidents said there are many reasons why students drop out before completing graduation, but big ones are academic and financial issues. Rising costs of college put more stress on students and their families.

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