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Lone Star College participates in My Degree Counts program

HOUSTON (May 21, 2012) – Lone Star College System is a proud partner of the My Degree Counts campaign launched by The Center for Houston’s Future and Houston Mayor Anise Parker. 

My Degree Counts is a public outreach campaign to raise graduation rates by 1 percent at colleges in the Houston region by the summer of 2013.

“At LSCS our number one goal is student success and credential completion,” said Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor. “We are excited about this campaign and to partner with other colleges in the Houston area to raise awareness on the importance of completing college degrees and credentials.”

During 2012 commencement ceremonies, LSCS conferred 5,251 students with their associate degrees or certificates which represented the largest graduation class in the history of the college system.

For Houston, increasing the credential rate by just 1 percent can boost the Houston regional economy and increase personal income by $4.2 billion annually.

Houston is the fourth largest city in the nation, but ranks 34th in college attainment. Only about 28 percent of its residents hold four-year degrees and 6 percent of residents have obtained two-year degrees.

Nationally, while only 4.3 percent of those with four-year degrees are unemployed, the unemployment rate jumps to 10.3 percent  for those with only a high school  degree and increases to 15 percent for those without high school diplomas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Current projections indicate that 63 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education by 2018, making it more important than ever for all students to continue their education and earn college degrees, said Carpenter.

At LSCS, the My Degree Counts project includes contacting more than 10,000 students that have 55 college credits or more, but for whatever reason, have not returned to complete their associate degree.

These students are being contacted by phone and postcards and can access a special website for assistance with their credit status and completion options.

“They are so close to completing an associate degree and finishing what they started.  A college degree can increase their earning power, reduce their unemployment rate and encourage their children to also attend college,” said Carpenter.  “We can’t afford to let them not finish.” 

The website to request more information for those students who have temporarily withdrawn from college is LoneStar.edu/finish.

The My Degree Counts campaign at LSCS is being led by Juanita Chysanthou, associate vice chancellor of student success.  Chysanthou is also the team lead for the LSCS Completion by Design project, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Completion by Design seeks to increase community college completion rates by systematically changing processes, practices and policies to significantly improve student success.

Houston’s My Degree Counts program is spearheaded by The Center for Houston’s Future, a dynamic, community-based organization that brings together business and community to innovate for the future of the Houston region.

CEOs for Cities had the idea to create a competition as an effort to increase college attainment in the nation’s cities by 1 percentage point, which CEOS for Cities calculates would be worth $124 billion a year in increased national earnings.

A total of 57 cities from around the country have stepped up to increase completion but to also compete for a $1 million prize as part of the My Degree Counts effort.

The city that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of post-secondary degrees granted per each 1,000 population, over a three-year period, will be awarded the Talent Dividend Prize of $1 million by CEOs for Cities.

With 75,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball, and LSC-University Park, five centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.