Lamar State College Orange touts increases in enrollment and graduation rates

Published 12:10 am Saturday, June 8, 2024

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Over the last two years Lamar State College Orange has seen a substantial growth in and, more importantly, degrees and certificates awarded.

Despite the major dip many colleges saw in 2020 due to the pandemic, LSCO continued to grow its numbers, helping students and Southeast Texas.

In the fall of 2022, LSCO saw 1,236 students enroll, an improvement from the year prior where 895 students enrolled. This past fall, LSCO had 1,736 students enrolled, 500 more than the year before.

Daniel McLemore, director of marketing communications at Lamar State College Orange, says the school rebounded from the pandemic because of a strong faculty well versed in technology.

“Everybody has a different way that they like to see classes taught,” McLemore said. “We want to offer that as much as we possibly can in every modality, modality that they are expected in. So having that was one of the big things, having the classes be online, in person and then HyFlex.”

HyFlex, Hybrid-Flexible, is when a class is online and in person. It allows students who work full time to attend the class if they miss out on in-person.

LSCO also works with local high schools with dual-credit programs allowing students to receive college classes during high school.

“A lot of our high schools In Orange County, actually, all of them are partnered with us,” McLemore said. “Some of them in other counties around us too, partner with us, and those high schools are really pushing their students to enroll in those CTE/career pathways that are allowing them to get those skills, crafts and trades before they ever even leave high school.

“We have the skills, crafts and trades that our industry is really needing, and we’re able to take the professionals that have worked in this industry for a long time, take their experience, their expertise, and then have that imparted into the students that enroll at Lamar State College Orange.”

Unfortunately many students who go to college don’t always end up coming out with a certificate or a degree, that doesn’t seem to be the case with LSCO as the growth for credit completions have also skyrocketed in the past two years.

In the fall of 2022, LSCO saw 635 students earn their degrees and certificates. This fall, 763 students completed their degrees and certificates, 128 more compared to last fall.

“It’s great to see graduation and certificates,” McLemore said. “Well, yes, but we were actually seeing that graduation rate is increasing a lot along with it. So people are starting and finishing on time a lot more.”

An important feature that LSCO offers is hands-on training where students can train with experienced professionals.

LSCO accepts people from all ages, not only just traditional students. They understand sometimes a job may require a degree or certificate.

“You may not be able to go 12, 15 hours a semester, you may only be able to take one or two classes at a time, and we definitely see that because our average age of student hovering around 25, 28 years old,” McLemore said. “We’re not typically enrolling students fresh out of high school. We’re enrolling students who have gone into a career, maybe have decided, ‘I really need to go back and get the credentials so I can be promoted’ or ‘I can have a better career’ or something like that. I just got a photo today, about an hour ago, of a veteran that enrolled, an 80-year-old veteran that enrolled in the college because he had never gone to college.”

Despite technical degrees being the one of the most common careers LSCO students complete, the school also helps to improve in communication and soft skills.

“We’re obviously seeing a lot of these students come in where they may not know specifically how to communicate, but we’re providing those classes for them that helped them build those soft skills to make them even more successful in their industry,” McLemore said.

“We want to continue doing what we’re doing and finding ways that we can give students exactly what they need and give our industry and our community partners exactly what they’re looking for as well. It’s our goal to bridge hope and opportunity. We want to provide the hope to students that they can build a better life for themselves and then create an opportunity for them to use the skills, crafts and trades that they’ve learned in an industry and build a career from that.”

— Written by Brian Quijada