Brookdale students came out in droves on Oct. 20 to join in the New Jersey Community College Completion Challenge (NJC4), sponsored by the New Jersey Education Association and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges’ Center for Student Success.
The statewide initiative asks community college students to pledge to earn an associate degree before leaving their school or transferring to a four-year college. At Brookdale, more than 100 students visited an NJC4 rally on the Student Life Center patio hosted by Alpha Phi Theta, the Brookdale chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) national honor society.
Visitors were treated to refreshments, free bracelets and a wide range of information on the benefits of earning a community college degree. They also signed their name to a large NJC4 banner, informally pledging to earn a degree. The banner boasted well over 100 signatures by the end of the day.
“By completing here, students will always have that degree,” said chemistry professor and PTK co-advisor Shahin Pirzad.
“Many students transfer without getting a degree, and a lot of times, at a four-year school, students will realize they don’t like where they are, or what they are studying, and they leave. After all that time, they are left with nothing. So we are trying to encourage them to earn that two-year degree now and protect their future.”
PTK member Brad Comer, who will be transferring to Monmouth University this spring, said he also found out that the transfer process is much easier for students who plan on earning an associate degree and graduating.
“I can’t recommend it enough,” Comer said. “It makes a huge difference, both now and in the future.”
In addition to pledge cards, PTK members handed out information listing the top ten benefits of a community college degree. Those benefits include a significant increase in earning potential, with associate degree holders making an average of $500,000 more in their lifetimes.
Unemployment rates are also about 30 percent lower for community college graduates, according to PTK, and degree holders are more likely to transfer and graduate from a four-year school.
“This pledge is not for us. It’s not a pledge to us. It’s a pledge for the student. The students are pledging to themselves to see their education through and make this change in their lives,” said associate English professor and PTK co-advisor Angela Saragusa. “They are saying, ‘I believe in myself.'”
PTK members also handed out faculty appreciation cards, and encouraged students to complete them and give them to a Brookdale professor who had made a difference in their academic journey.
To learn more about PTK at Brookdale, click here.
Check out more photos of the NJC4 rally here.