ECTC students make strides in retention, graduation rates | ECTC

ECTC students make strides in retention, graduation rates

by Dr. Juston Pate - August 15, 2023

If you have been following Elizabethtown Community and Technical College over the last several years, you know the college has developed many new initiatives to improve student success. As ECTC president, I could not be more excited to tell you that the work is paying off.

ECTC students’ accomplishments are apparent in both the college’s retention rate and graduation rate — two metrics commonly used to indicate student success.

The graduation rate is measured as the percentage of full-time students who earn a credential within three years of first enrolling at the college. ECTC’s rate has been climbing steadily from 31% in 2017 to 42% in 2022. This year, the rate jumped to 49%. That means nearly half of the full-time students — college students, not dual credit high school students — who enrolled for the first time in the Fall 2020 semester have earned a credential from ECTC in three years or less.

To see that kind of growth from 2017 to 2023 is a remarkable accomplishment. For context, the national community college graduation rate was 36% in 2021, the latest data available.

And there’s more. Our graduation rate likely will continue on an upward trajectory considering the gains made in the retention rate, the percentage of students who continue from one fall semester to the next. ECTC’s retention rate from Fall 2017 to Fall 2018 was about 51% among full- and part-time students, and it climbed to about 57% for 2021-2022.

Further, we’ve seen tremendous gains in the retention rate among full-time students, jumping from 59% in 2017-2018 to 71% in 2021-2022. ECTC’s full-time retention rate is the second highest in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which has an average rate of 64% among its 16 colleges.

These rates illustrate that our students are staying the course and moving forward toward the futures they want. But students also are doing better in the classroom as they progress. Over the last several years, more students are passing all their classes, fewer are dropping classes, and overall GPAs are increasing.

As we think about what drives us forward, I must emphasize the dedication and expertise of the ECTC faculty and staff. They’re doing the work, putting meaningful programs in place such as the 8-Week Advantage class schedule, our centralized Student Success Hub, expanded scholarships, and continued efforts to enhance our classes and hire the best teaching talent. And all of it comes back to students. Students are the reason we are here, and we only succeed when they succeed.

Our growing partnership with Family Scholar House also is driving student success. This organization provides the wrap-around services that a college simply cannot provide on its own. Last school year, Family Scholar House provided nearly 3,000 services to more than 700 ECTC students. That’s gas cards, food, assistance with public benefits, emergency funding and much more.

And now, we’re working with Family Scholar House to bring housing for student parents to our Elizabethtown campus. I invite you to learn more about this project and the community support we need to make it a reality at

It’s important that we pause to celebrate the gains our students have achieved, but at the same time we remain focused on the future. The year ahead will be an exciting time for ECTC as we develop new University Center partnerships with four-year colleges, plan for major renovations and additions to the Occupational Technical Building and the Leitchfield campus, and cut a ribbon on the ECTC BlueOval SK Training Center in Glendale, just to name a few initiatives.

There is no doubt that your community and technical college is in as strong a position as ever to change students’ lives and create a better future in this region for all of us. I wish all our students, faculty, staff, and employer and community partners the best for the 2023-24 academic year!

Dr. Juston Pate