24% of New Students at MCC Fail at Least One Course

A couple of years ago, I heard a story on NPR’s “Fresh Air” about how a Brooklyn community college had increased passage rates significantly by instituting a program called “Success Coaches.”

An advisor was assigned to follow individual students through the year.

I asked McHenry County College to figure out how many first year students failed at least one course.

The answer astounded me and I hope it might disturb you as well:

Per information from the College’s Office of Institutional Research, in FY 2016, there were 2,564 first-time college students at some point in the year.

Of those individuals,

603 received a failing grade in at least one course.[!] 

That means 23.6% of students failed at least one course in the first year of community college.

That sounds like a serious problem.

There is a proven way to decrease the failure rate.

It is by instituting a Success Coach system under while an advisory is assigned to “hold the hand,” so to speak of each new student, perhaps to each student who might be having problems even after his or her first year.

I can’t find the “Fresh Air” story (no search engine I could find), but did find the following articles which discuss the program (click on the titles to read the articles):

From the Heckinger Report:

“Success coaches” prodding college students to graduate

From WFYI:

College Students To Get One-On-One Help Under Grant Program

Clinton Gabbard

Clinton Gabbard

I have spoken during the MCC Board’s public comment period on this subject long enough ago that it seems at least a year since hearing the Fresh Air story while coming out of Colonial Cafe after lunch.

It obviously made no impression of ex-President Vicky Smith.

I also emailed the finding to each MCC Board member last night.

Maybe publishing the almost 25% failure rate of first year students may spur remedial action by new President Clinton Gabbard.

It seems to me that reducing this percentage should be built into the performance reviews of all MCC administrative officials who could have an influence on the situation.


24% of New Students at MCC Fail at Least One Course — 8 Comments

  1. Perhaps this is a good thing.

    Perhaps this is a very inexpensive way for an 18 year old to find out that college is not right for them.

    How many students have to learn the same lesson but only after dropping $20 Grand on tuition, room & board, books, etc. at a 4-year institution?

    Maybe college is supposed to be hard.

  2. This begs the question:

    So how did they graduate from high school ?

  3. I’m sure that a lot of these failures were people who decided to just drop a class or drop out of school entirely and didn’t bother going through the proper channels to withdrawal.

    With grade inflation, it’s pretty hard to fail anymore unless you quit showing up.

  4. I agree with some of the above posts but can’t forget that colleges are businesses.

    If they are making money, then why bother with additional costs involved with hiring ‘coaches’.

  5. Re: ” colleges are businesses”


    Why is it on my property tax bill?

    How many students attend with taxpayer funded grants?

  6. I agree with Billy Bob on this.

    To die trying is one thing, but to not show up shouldn’t be skewing the numbers.

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