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Statistics show the surest way for anyone to
land a job in their chosen field is to finish college and earn a degree or
certificate. That is exactly what students at Central Lakes College are promising to
do —  signing a mass pledge to complete
their associate degrees or certificates before leaving community college for
transfer or to enter the job market. Administrators, faculty and staff have also been asked to sign the
pledge, committing themselves to do whatever they can to facilitate completion
of student credentials. CLC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society chapter, Psi Beta, will host “Commit
to Completion” on the Brainerd campus from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nov. 27 and 28.

During the Brainerd campus event Nov. 27 and 28, students, advisers, and counselors will staff a booth outside the cafeteria.
The event is part of
the C4: Community College Completion Corps national PTK initiative. Purpose of
the event is to bring awareness to the importance and benefits of completing a
college degree, program, credential, or other certificate.

In April 2010 leaders of six national organizations representing the
nation’s 1,200 community colleges signed “The Call to Action,” a pledge to
increase student completion rates by 50 percent over the next decade.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society was the only student organization asked
to participate. PTK launched the Community College Completion Corps in response
to this call.

At the 2010 White House Summit for Community Colleges, President Obama
called for community colleges to produce an additional 5 million degrees and
certificates in the next 10 years, part of a goal to restore the United States
as the world’s leader in college graduates.

The U.S. ranks 16th among
industrialized countries in percentage of citizens holding higher education

“We will have a large banner for students to sign when they take the
pledge,” said Katie Smieja, a mathematics instructor and PTK adviser at CLC. “Those
who take the pledge will be able to wear stickers that say ‘I’m Committed.’

“We will also distribute stickers to faculty and staff to wear that say
‘Got Commitment?’”

 PTK is coordinating with the CLC
Counseling Department to provide an opportunity for students to submit a
request for support to help them fulfill their commitment to completion.

Smieja said that other retention initiatives at CLC include Student
Success Day, Welcome Week, and the newly formed Retention Committee.

Students who complete their degrees or
certificates will earn an average of $500,000 more over the course of their
careers than their peers who did not complete. In addition, individuals with
credentials are less likely to become unemployed than their co-workers who did
not earn credentials.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society is the largest honor society in higher
education with 1,280 chapters. More than two million students have been
inducted since its founding in 1918.

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