Rate of grads rises slightly


Frank Fitzgeralde Libom

Approximately 444 students attended AACC’s in-person graduation ceremony in May.

Dan Elson, Sports Editor

Approximately 1,867 Riverhawks graduated in May, including 444 who accepted their diplomas at Live! Casino & Hotel during the college’s first in-person ceremony in two years.

“My experience at AACC has been extremely positive,” 2022 graduate Katheryne Lochart, a computer science and mathematics student, said.

Shuang Liu, associate vice president for continuous improvement and innovation analytics, agreed.

Graduation rates are “an indicator for institutional effectiveness,” Liu said. “We strive for excellence and continue to address students’ needs. We’ve definitely seen some good news about our graduate numbers.”

One way colleges measure success is by tracking how many students graduate within four years from their first semester on campus. At AACC, 27% of students in the 2017 cohort—those who enrolled for the first time in fall 2017—graduated in 2021, the latest year for which the college has figures.

That compares with an average 26% graduation rate among all Maryland community colleges for the fall 2017 cohort.

Still, the graduation rate of AACC’s 2017 cohort rate was down 1% from 2016. Approximately 28% of those students graduated in 2020, according to the college.

Since spring 2013, however, the number of graduates from their cohorts has increased by 12%.

“There’s definitely room for us to improve from the national perspective,” Liu said. “When we do studies, we look at what other institutions are [doing].”

Liu said the faculty and staff’s commitment is the reason AACC is surpassing the statewide average.

From 2017 and 2021, an average of 71.6% of graduates each year received associate degrees and 28.4% of students earned certificates.

May graduate Brandon Timmins said he feels proud the college has a higher graduation rate than others.

“Coming from one of the best [community colleges] in the nation to move on to a four-year school … really makes me feel like I’ve got a solid base for myself,” Timmins said.