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NSCC gets $2.2M grant to help students stay in school

LYNN — North Shore Community College (NSCC) has received a $2.2 million grant to help students complete school.

Awarded by U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to implement a Pathways to Success program over the next five years, it is designed to keep students in school until they graduate.

The Title III Strengthening Institutions funds is one of only three DOE grants given in Massachusetts, and the only one awarded to a community college. 

It couldn’t come at a better time. NSCC school faces a series of challenges, according to data from collegetuitioncompare.com. A survey of 42 state schools in Massachusetts found NSCC’s graduation rate is 18 percent compared to the 47 percent statewide average; its retention rate is 63 percent for full time students compared to the 71 percent average in Massachusetts. Its retention rate among part time students is 50 percent, on par with the state average. 

Pathways promises to help students by integrating technology and academic programming to provide students with the tools they need to achieve their career goals in their chosen academic field, the school said.

“Title III is a transformative program which will enable NSCC to make necessary change to better support student retention and completion efforts,” said Patricia Gentile, NSCC president, in a statement. “This grant injects significant resources into these efforts and will take them to the next level of guided career pathways and wrap around supports, with students empowered to utilize a variety of resources.”

Pathways addresses two priorities set by the federal agency:  increase student access to internships and career planning, and support instruction in personal finance. 

The program represents an overhaul of the student experience to provide clear, coherent pathways to graduation sustained through integrated support, NSCC said. 

It has two main components: Guided Pathways promises to ensure students choose an academic program that fits their skills, interests, career and personal goals.  First year courses, internships and specialized instructional practices are designed to prepare students to succeed, the school said.

Integrated support uses the power of technology and personal interaction to provide students, faculty and staff with accessible communication systems and data that informs decision-making and tracks students’ progress toward their goals, the school said.  The project also promises to strengthen academic and student support components to increase student retention and completion.

Underscoring the program is professional development for faculty and staff that provides cross-training, integrating high impact practices across the curriculum, and college-wide training on the use and implementation of new technological tools, she said. 

The Title III grant program is intended to help institutions of higher learning expand their capacity to serve students of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds through rigorous education, strong administrative management and fiscal stability.

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