Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


September 4, 2013

Among the best

ACTC provides a quality education at affordable price

ASHLAND — Not only is Ashland Community and Technical College the most affordable option for area residents seeking an education beyond high school, but it also is one of the best community colleges in the nation.

Thus, students who attend the local community and technical college not only are getting a bargain, but they also are getting a quality education. By doing an excellent job of preparing students who go on to a four-year college after two years at ACTC, the local college is helping to increase the number of college-educated adults in this region that has a shortage of such people.

By helping students earn their four-year college degree, a better educated adult population will make this region more competitive in recruiting the good-paying jobs that require at least some college. That bodes well for this region’s future.

The Washington Monthly, a respected magazine that focuses on government and national politics, has ranked ACTC 43rd among the more than 1,000 community colleges in the country. The ranking is based on student retention and completion, and student  engagement issues such as teaching practices, student workload, interaction with faculty and student support.

Those issues are critical to the success of not only two-year community college but also four-year state universities. Since the enactment of the Higher Education Reform Act that separated the community colleges from the University of Kentucky and led to the merger of the community colleges and the vocational-technical schools, enrollment at the community and technical colleges has soared. As a result, the number of students earning  technical degrees or certificates or going on to earn four-year degrees has grown greatly. In fact, the community and technical colleges have led the way to creating a better-educated adult workforce in Kentucky. 

However, while more students than ever are enrolling in the community and technical colleges, keeping those students in school until they earn a degree or certificate has always been a challenge. One reason is because unlike the four-year universities, the two-year schools have open enrollment which means anyone graduating from a Kentucky high school can attend. That greatly increases the educational opportunities of Kentucky residents, but it also means that many of the students enrolling in the community and technical schools lack the academic skills to be immediately successful in college. In fact, a majority of ACTC students must take some remedial classes in math or reading before they enroll in classes that count toward a degree. That’s why so many students give up before earning a degree.

Retention, completion and relationships between students and faculty are all key components of ACTC’s mission because they contribute to student success, according to ACTC President Kay Adkins. Student success, always the first concern at ACTC, has become a priority in recent years on the state and national levels as well, with increasing attention on whether students reach their goals, whether they are earning a diploma or certificate or transferring to another college or university.

The survey measured five benchmarks in addition to retention and completion, said Steve Flouhouse, ACTC’s director of institutional planning, research and effectiveness. ACTC results showed improvement in the benchmarks since the last time it participated in the study in 2009, he said. At that time, three of the five were below 50 percent, the mark considered good. ACTC’s student-faculty interaction benchmark was 61, one of the top marks in the nation, he said.

Improvement stems from initiatives in ACTC’s advising and retention office, Flouhouse said.

Christina McDavid, associate dean of advising and student retention, said her office engages struggling students with credit recovery programs. The office has a veteran outreach center, a career center and trained peer mentors. “There are multiple ways we engage with students and they are a big reason the numbers are up,” she said.

The study showed a three-year combined graduation/transfer rate of 31.9 percent. However, student success is not measured in graduation and transfer numbers alone, Adkins said. Many students attend community college to take specific classes or for personal fulfillment, or have other goals that don’t include completion. “Our graduation rate doesn’t speak to the total picture of student success,” she said.

Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland was the other community and technical college on the top 50 list. That means two schools serving the part of Kentucky that has the least educated adult work force are leading the way toward reducing their negative statistic that keep potential employers from locating in this region. We congratulate both ACTC and Southeast for making the top 50 and for helping area residents extend their education beyond high school.

Text Only
  • What's next?

    While virtually all cities in northeastern Kentucky provide their residents with some utility services — water and sewer, mainly, and sometimes natural gas — to the best of our knowledge, Olive Hill is the only town in the FIVCO region with its own electrical company.

    April 13, 2014

  • 'Waited too long'

    Lt. Garlin Murl Conner left the U.S. Army as the second-most decorated soldier during World War II, earning four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, seven Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during 28 straight months in combat.

    April 12, 2014

  • Enact HB 3

    The National Rx Drug Abuse Summit is under way hundreds of miles from eastern Kentucky in Orlando, Fla., but the three-day conference which runs through Thursday, was organized by Operation UNITE, the eastern Kentucky anti-drug group that knows all too well the devastating impact the prescription drug epidemic continues to have on this region.

    April 11, 2014

  • State officials cease efforts to stop advance of ash borer

    Kentucky’s war against the tiny emerald ash borer responsible for already killing more than 25 million ash trees in the eastern United States has ended in surrender — by state officials, not the tiny insect.

    April 8, 2014

  • Demise of apparel industry in Kentucky continues

    The steady demise of the once thriving clothing industry in small Kentucky towns continues with the latest factory to announce it is shutting down being one of the largest: Fruit of the Loom has announced it is closing its last remaining plant in Jamestown, a move that eventually will see the elimination of more than 600 jobs in the small town near Lake Cumberland.

    April 7, 2014

  • None on ballot

    The 2014 Kentucky General Assembly considered an unusually high number of proposed amendments to the Kentucky Constitution on such issues as casino gambling, the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons and the elimination of state and local elected offices.

    April 4, 2014

  • Time runs out

    Two bills proposed by House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and designed to boost the economy of this region have apparently died in the Kentucky Senate after being approved by the House of Representatives. Despite easily being approved by the Democratic-controlled House, neither bill was even brought up for a vote by the Republican-controlled Senate.

    April 2, 2014

  • Time runs out

    Two bills proposed by House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and designed to boost the economy of this region have apparently died in the Kentucky Senate after being approved by the House of Representatives. Despite easily being approved by the Democratic-controlled House, neither bill was even brought up for a vote by the Republican-controlled Senate.

    April 2, 2014

  • Dismal numbers

    The good news is that the health ratings of all but two area counties improved in the latest ranking of the state’s 120 counties. However, before we pat ourselves on the back for those improvements, the overall health of residents of counties in northeast Kentucky remains rather dismal. Yes, we are improving but we still have a long, long way to go.

    April 2, 2014

  • Kentucky losing many of its old barns

    Many of those of us who are old enough to remember traveling on two-lane highways  have fond memories of the role barns played in keeping us informed. By reading advertisements painted on roadside barns, we learned about Mail Pouch chewing tobacco and Rock City and Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn.

    March 26, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
SEC Zone