By Terica Mannette and the Office of Academic Advisement
The CUNY Momentum initiative was launched in Fall 2017, and has established important goals for academic progression within the CUNY system. One initiative which stemmed from this plan, was “15/30”. Essentially, students are encouraged to complete 15 credits every semester in order to graduate at a faster rate. Retention rates are higher for students who complete 15 credits in their first semester, and data also shows that students who complete entry level English and math courses, determine their major, and earn 30 credits, within their first year of college, are more likely to graduate on time. On time degree completion can maximize financial aid, lead to a faster track towards career goals, and eliminate excess expenses. Academic Advisement plays a key role in the implementation of this initiative.
The Office of Academic Advisement at Hostos Community College is dedicated to the promotion of academic advising for transfer, continuing, and readmitted students in good academic standing. Each Academic Advisor recognizes the potential for students’ personal, social and academic growth, and encourages students to maximize their individual strengths, knowledge and skills to foster growth and to excel academically. When students meet with us to discuss their academic needs, we first thoroughly explain their DegreeWorks audit in order for them to gain an understanding of every requirement that needs to be satisfied to graduate. Advisors then discuss the course options for each requirement, and the student decides which of the courses they are interested in selecting. Students are advised for 15 credits of those desired courses, each semester, if their major allows. Alternative options are even added in order to accommodate scheduling needs. If students have remedial or developmental placements, advisors stress the importance of enrolling and completing those needs as soon as possible to prevent a delay in terms of expected graduation.
Students often inform us of factors in their lives that can affect their ability to commit to a 15 credit course load such as childcare needs, full time employment, or commitments to extracurricular activities. In order to ensure that taking 15 credits remains an option, advisors refer students to on campus resources which can assist them in addressing their personal concerns, so that they can focus on degree completion. Advisors also inform students about the Excelsior Scholarship opportunity. The Excelsior scholarship covers tuition fees for eligible students. However, in order to maintain tuition coverage by the scholarship, students are required to complete 30 credits each year. If a student takes 15 credits each semester, rather than 12, it is easier to reach 30 credits. Furthermore, informing students that the cost to take 15 credits is the same as the cost to take 12 credits is also helpful.
Students ultimately make the final decision about how many credits they will select every semester, but through the continuous promotion of the CUNY Momentum initiative and constant encouragement from advisement offices, more students will make the necessary commitment to obtain their degrees on time.