Valencia College thrives on inclusion and excellence

Recently, US News and World Report released its annual ranking of the best colleges and universities in America. And I’m proud to say that Valencia College wasn’t ranked anywhere on this list.

Because rather than celebrating how many students we turn away, I’m proud that Valencia College admits the top 100% of all applicants. We measure our success by who we include, rather than who we exclude.

Since its founding in 1967, Valencia has been an open-access institution – a college that opens its doors to everyone. At Valencia, we believe that anyone can learn anything under the right conditions. It is at the heart of our mission to identify and create the conditions necessary for the success of each student.

Now, as we head into the 55th year of college, we’ve set bold and ambitious goals — ones that have the potential to reshape Central Florida’s future. We are rewriting the script on who goes to college, setting high expectations for our students and their learning, and preparing our graduates to fully participate in the workforce of the future. Additionally, we strive to be the first community college in the nation with no disparities in student achievement based on race and ethnicity.

ACCESS TO COLLEGE: Of all the new jobs created in our economy, 99% require post-secondary education.

That’s why Valencia’s goal, in partnership with the Orange and Osceola school districts, is to have 80 percent of their high school graduates attend college, university, or college by 2030. vocational school after graduating from high school.

DIPLOMA RATE: Most of our students work full-time or part-time while studying in Valencia. Between work and family responsibilities, most of our students study part-time, and as a result, most of our graduates take several years to earn an associate degree. This in no way diminishes their achievement—in fact, it makes it all the more extraordinary—and why we’ve stopped calling an associate’s degree a “two-year degree.”

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While our graduation rates are already significantly higher than those of our peer institutions across the country, our goal for 2030 is to increase our five-year graduation rate to 50% for students of every race and ethnicity.

SUCCESSFUL TRANSFER: One of the measures of a great community college is how well it prepares its students to succeed at the next level. Our goal is to have 65% of Valencia graduates who enroll in a bachelor’s degree program at UCF or Valencia complete their degree within four years of starting upper division courses.

The success of the DirectConnect to UCF partnership, which guarantees admission of Valencia graduates to UCF, has been remarkable. Each year, nearly 25% of UCF graduates are Valencia alumni. Since DirectConnect’s inception in 2006, more than 36,000 Valencia alumni have earned a bachelor’s degree from UCF. And, with Valencia’s tuition half that of state universities, that translated to almost a quarter of a billion (that’s a billion, with ab) dollars tuition savings for Central Florida families.

CAREER DATA: Our accelerated training programs allow students to prepare for high-demand jobs in weeks, and our associate and bachelor’s degrees in the workforce are directly aligned with the needs of the Central Florida economy. . We are proud of the strength of our partnerships with our local business community. Our goal is that by 2030, more than 12,000 students will earn a degree or industry certification each year.

By achieving these goals, we will not only help our students achieve their dreams; we will also improve the economic outlook for Central Florida. Yet we still live in a world where access to opportunity can be limited by your zip code, and we know we cannot transform Central Florida’s future alone. What will it take? Strategic partnerships with educational collaborators, business and industry leaders, elected officials, community members and our students themselves.

We invite you to join us.

Kathleen Plinske is president of Valencia College.

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