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Cuesta’s completion rate barely breaks 50 percent

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By Garrett Smiley
Features Editor

Cuesta college is nearing the end of the spring semester, and graduation is around the corner for its students.

As commencement approaches, information about Cuesta’s completion rate becomes increasingly more important.

The completion rate percentages are drawn from degree, certificate and/or transfer-seeking students starting for the first time in 2009 to 2010,  tracked for six years through 2014-15 who completed a degree, certificate or transfer-related outcomes.

The completion rate of Cuesta college is 51.8 percent from 2015 to 2016, and according to the websites of other community colleges in California, this is normal.

Cuesta college has a wildly diverse demographic of students, with 81.5 percent of students from ages under 19 to 29.

Cuesta college tracks the goals of every student, and these goals are measured in percentages on the official Cuesta college website.

Each student has a different goal in mind. Students look to start their educational careers, continue them, and finish them.

According to Cuesta college’s registration and characteristics report, 42.5 percent of students in fall 2016 have goals to “obtain an AA or AS and transfer to a four year university.”

Additionally, 12.1 percent of students want to “transfer to a four year university without an AA or AS.”

As of fall 2016, 21.4 percent of students are first-timers, 54.6 percent of students are continuing their education, and 11.4 percent of students are returning.

According to the California community college success scorecard, continuing and returning are two different classifications for students.

Continuing students are defined as “attending Cuesta with consecutive semesters and years.” Returning students are students that take a break, and then return to school.

Students look to better themselves, and their résumés to become more attractive prospects for a four year college. 61.9 percent of students are looking to transfer, either with or without a degree, while 7 percent of students look to end their academic endeavors after achieving an associate degree.

This 70 percent of students that “aren’t graduating” is more likely due to students transferring to “bigger” and “better” things, rather than giving up and going home.

Many students at Cuesta come to the central coast for the scenery, as well as the education opportunity that Cuesta college provides, which is why it is chosen above other colleges that have a higher completion rate, such as Santa Barbara City College.

“I came to Cuesta for the location, man. San Luis Obispo,” Keaton Donald, a sophomore kinesiology major said. “I want to transfer to Long Beach State.”

Cuesta college’s completion rate is 51.8 percent and is higher than Ventura’s and Allan Hancock’s completion rate, that is 50.9 percent and 42.8 percent. However, it falls lower than Santa Barbara City College’s 64 percent.

This places Cuesta college at about the middle of the pack when it comes to its piers in the California community college system.

The interactive “scorecard,” found on Cuesta’s website, divides the students graduating into two different categories: prepared and unprepared.

The difference between a prepared and unprepared student is the level of math or english taken upon application to the college.

Students that are labeled as “prepared” are individuals that take a “college level” math or english course, while “unprepared students” are students who take remedial level math or english.

Prepared students have a completion rate of 73.6 percent, which is higher than the school’s average, but unprepared students have a much lower completion rate. Unprepared students complete at 40.8 percent.