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How Mohawk Valley Community College

Using Leading Metrics to Improve Time to Completion



Degree Velocity© improved by 19.4%, from a rate of 36% to 43%


Productive Credit Ratio improved from 69% to 73%


Average Time to Degree decreased from 5.5 years to 4.6 years


Projected Credits to Degree decreased by 11.6%, from 86 credits to 76 credits

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Course Scheduling

Registration Monitoring

Course Demand Forecasting

Momentum Year Analytics

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The Challenge:
In 2018, Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC), Oneida, N.Y., became concerned about the slowing rate at which its students were progressing through MVCC’s degree programs. Only 20% of students were completing momentum year requirements, and the productive credit hour ratio was less than 70%.

Academic leaders at MVCC attributed stop outs to non-productive credit hours that didn’t contribute toward degree completion. Students who needed to take additional classes, which didn’t contribute to degree completion, were spending extra time and money. These students tended to run out of time and/or funds before eventually stopping out.

The Analysis:

Jim Lynch, Assistant Vice President of Learning and Academic Affairs at MVCC, believed a solution to this challenge would require measurement and benchmarking of MVCC’s leading success metrics. Working in conjunction with Ad Astra, Lynch completed a review of productive credit hour ratios, average credit to degree and Degree Velocity©. The analysis indicated MVCC’s average full-time student was taking 28.1 credits per year, but 6.9 of those credits were “unproductive.” The review also demonstrated the estimated time to degree was 2.8 years with a standard Degree Velocity© of 71%. For Lynch, these findings showed significant opportunities for improvement – prompting a new student-centered initiative focused on pathway health.

Chief among these initiatives was a careful analysis and revision of MVCC’s pathways. With 100+ program and certificate offerings, the institution sought a way to identify where issues existed and the resulting financial impact of those issues on the community college. Lynch hypothesized if the institution could better define its pathways, students would find it easier to follow their degree maps and the institution could reduce stop outs.



Ad Astra gave me the ability to do an immediate view of potential issues in a program and a way to ID the outliers to determine why there were issues.”

The Solution:

MVCC laid the groundwork for defining pathways by creating model/sample pathway templates for its desired programs. This was followed by refining course sequences using data analytics and identifying key milestone courses. MVCC employed initial scale implementation to ensure pathways were digitized or imported before analyzing pathways for alignment-to-scheduling practices. With this in place, the institution could begin recommending key changes to support the scale implementation of pathways.

After defining the pathways, Lynch used Ad Astra software to perform curricular mapping and assessment of roadblocks. Using mapping techniques, Lynch could look at prerequisites and identify what was missing from the program. Once these elements were identified, Lynch used Ad Astra data to identify the outliers.

Using Ad Astra reports, Lynch could look at alignment and enrollment ratio to determine the impact of running classes out of sequence from the pathway. Alignment included an analysis that integrated advising, scheduling, and registration, in addition to a discovery process of the impact of students in non-credit developmental classes. He could also determine if a program was making or losing money and the value the program offered students.

After working through a range of challenges, including a pandemic, MVCC saw projected credits-to-degree drop from 86 to 76. Lynch also saw momentum year completion improve by 30%. Close to six years into the endeavor, MVCC has now created a solid foundation of pathways and has discovered a clear route to Degree Velocity© and student success. As a result, MVCC students take fewer unnecessary credits, further decreasing the time to degree and boosting scheduling efficiencies throughout the institution.

School Background: 

Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC) in Oneida City, New York was the first community college established in the state of New York. MVCC is a member of the State University of New York (SUNY) system of 64 institutions, one of the largest comprehensive systems of university, colleges, and community colleges in the United States. MVCC has campuses in Utica and Rome and is the largest college between Syracuse and Albany.

Ad Astra Advocate:

Jim Lynch is Assistant Vice President of Learning and Academic Affairs at Mohawk Valley Community College, Oneida City, New York. Before taking on his current role, Lynch served as Executive Dean of Academic Development and Innovation and Director of Educational Technology at Mohawk Valley Community College. He received a Master of Management from Cambridge College in Boston Massachusetts.

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