Statistics show the surest way for anyone to land a job in his or her chosen field is to finish college and earn a degree or certificate.

And that’s exactly what students at Lamar State College-Orange promised to do when they signed 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 also signed the pledge, committing themselves to do whatever they can to facilitate completion of student credentials. 

Students recently gathered to sign the completion pledge, part of a national community college movement. Students, faculty and staff had an opportunity to sign pledge cards, as well as banners—one for students and one for faculty and staff—to be displayed in prominent locations on campus as reminders to all of the educational commitments affirmed during the event. 

The event was hosted by the college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Alpha Nu Gamma. Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society members are serving as the student arm of the Community College Completion Challenge (C4), a national education initiative. More information about C4 may be found at

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, founded in 1918, is an international organization that recognizes and promotes scholarship and leadership among students enrolled in two-year colleges and programs of study. Learn more about Phi Theta Kappa at

For students wishing to pursue a bachelor’s degree, information about College Fish, a free online tool that connects community college students with transfer scholarship opportunities, was also distributed at the event. Learn more at .

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. Phi Theta Kappa 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. is now ranked 16th among industrialized countries in the percentage of citizens holding higher education credentials. 

In 2010, Texas Governor Rick Perry pledged that Texas would fulfill requirements set forth by the Complete College America Alliance of States to revise statewide policy and enact legislation aimed at boosting college completion rates.1 Nevertheless, improving completion rates remains a challenge. The Texas Student Success Council reported in February 2014 that Texas has one of the nation’s largest community college enrollments, yet ranks 44th among states in attainment of Associate’s degrees, with only 14.5 percent of full-time community college students earning a degree or credential within three years.2 

The advantages of college completion are clear: 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. These benefits are among the top 10 reasons to earn a community college degree: .

During the eight-hour event in October (four hours each day), Phi Theta Kappa members persuaded more than 100 LSC-O students to sign the college completion pledge. 

On Dec. 1, LSC-O’s Alpha Nu Gamma Chapter held an induction ceremony welcoming 29 high-achieving students (having GPA’s of 3.5 or better) as members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. With this influx of exemplary new members, Alpha Nu Gamma is preparing to launch the second phase of the C4 signing campaign, which will take place during the Spring 2015 semester (specific dates and campus locations to be announced). The chapter’s goal is to collect a total, for both Fall and Spring, of at least 500 completion pledges from LSC-O students. 

Lamar State College-Orange has agreed to track completion rates among students who signed the pledge and share that data with Phi Theta Kappa, International, to help assess the effectiveness of the C4 initiative.   

Students, faculty, and staff who miss the on-campus C4 events may also pledge online at .


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