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Letters: Local colleges' graduation rates

A graduation ceremony at Dowling College in Oakdale.

A graduation ceremony at Dowling College in Oakdale. (May 21, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

While the motivation behind the federal government's new college scorecard is laudable, graduation rates are an incomplete measure of student success ["The LI college scorecard," News, March 27].

For example, it's also a success story when a student spends her or his first year at Nassau Community College and then transfers to a four-year school. That student has gotten a top-quality education and, because NCC is so affordable, has been able to save a significant amount of money that can help to defray the costs of the next three years.

That lower debt load upon graduation will enhance further educational and career options.

Also, consider the students who have enrolled in another college first, have left and have enrolled at NCC for a second opportunity. When they graduate, that's a success story as well, and it is indeed unfortunate that the scorecard doesn't register it as a positive achievement.

According to the scorecard's website, "Graduation rate data are based on undergraduate students who enrolled full-time and have never enrolled in college before."

The impulse to measure outcomes as a means of propelling and reinforcing standards of accountability is understandable. But when it results in a partial, if not misleading, picture, it should be given an "incomplete."

Kenneth K. Saunders, Garden City

Editor's note: The writer is the acting president of Nassau Community College.

What the president of SUNY Old Westbury said is a poor excuse -- that "many of our students are the first in their families to go to college, so you can't compare us to schools where students come from a long family history of higher education."

Being the first or the 100th in a family to go to college has nothing to do with an individual student's ability to graduate.

Our society, unfortunately, looks down on trade schools and pressures everyone to go to college, whether or not they have the skills to be there. When a student fails out of college after spending a great deal of time and money, he or she is lost, feels inadequate, and must begin the difficult task of finding another path.

High schools need to do a better job helping student realizes their potential by encouraging and helping them set realistic goals. Parents must also be part of this important process.

Graduation rates will only go up when the colleges are filled with students who have the interest and the necessary reading, mathematics and study skills to be there.

Diane Coddington, Port Washington