Pioneering and implementing bold ideas to advance college completion has been a hallmark since CCA’s start. The organization’s future success requires it to remain relentlessly committed to pursuing emerging ideas for improving student equity and completion. This work, however, cannot be undertaken in isolation. This is why CCA has formed partnerships with influential organizations to further support the college completion agenda.
Some of these organizations are highlighted below.

CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning)

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers)



CCA and CAEL Team Up to Support Adult Learners

New partnership will support the implementation of Game Changer strategies to improve college completion outcomes for adult learners


December 2019
At its Annual Convening today, Complete College America announced a new partnership with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) to develop and support the implementation of better support systems for adult learners in higher education.

The collaboration is intended to address today’s growing and diverse population of non-traditional students, specifically focusing on the hurdles adult learners face. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one in five undergraduate students are at least thirty years old. One in four care for a child.

Through this new partnership, the two organizations will produce and distribute key learnings and best practices for CCA Alliance members and other partners. This will include the development of a toolkit for the implementation of CCA’s A Better Deal for Returning Adults and Purpose First Game Changer strategies. The organizations will also collaborate to identify content experts who can best inform the Alliance’s advocacy and implementation work.

“We live in an era of cataclysmic change in our society and our economy. We have to take a new approach to postsecondary education that meets the needs of a much different population than the one our current system is built to serve,” said Marie Cini, Ph.D., President, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). “Rather than emphasizing exclusivity and the interests of a singular population of students, postsecondary education has to focus on serving all students, introducing more inclusivity and supporting success outcomes over a life of continuous learning.”

“Complete College America is at the forefront of the national movement to help more students achieve a college degree. CAEL believes, as does CCA, that to achieve these goals, we must collaborate for the good of our learners. CAEL focuses on adult learners and we are excited to support CCA with their work toward adult student success.”

Founded in 1974 to meet the needs of adult learners, CAEL is a non-profit that creates career pathways for adults by informing, supporting and connecting education providers, workforce strategies and employers.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to partner in strategic and intentional ways with CAEL,” said Yolanda Watson Spiva, Ph.D., President, Complete College America. “For a long time, CAEL has led the way on developing new approaches for supporting adult students in higher education. By joining forces, we hope to become one of the premier hubs for support on advancing adult learner strategies, while also advocating for proven and evidence based practices that can change campus structures to serve more students. We look forward to collaborating with them in pursuit of improving adult completion rates in alignment with CCA’s national efforts to scale effective adult college success and completion strategies.”

The partnership will help advance CCA’s Purpose First and Better Deal for Returning Adults completion strategies. To download CCA’s latest report on Purpose First, go to

CCA, NACADA Launch Effort to Boost On-Time Completion Rates, Reduce Student Debt

January 2017

Complete College America and NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising – an organization representing more than 12,000 members – announced today a joint effort to boost on-time completion rates and reduce student loan debt in partnership with the nation’s academic advisors. The initiative supports academic advisors’ integral role in college completion efforts and encourages participation in 15 to Finish campaigns that increase credit accumulation and provide students critical information about on-time completion.

As part of the announcement, the two organizations released Shared Principles for Boosting On-Time Graduation, outlining the challenges facing today’s students and the role advisors can play in the solution. Data show that most full-time American college students do not graduate on time – just 41% of full-time students at four-year, flagship institutions and 20% at four-year, non-flagship institutions graduate in four years; 5% of full-time students at two-year institutions graduate in two years (CCA Data Collection). Additionally, most full-time students are not earning the 30 credits needed each academic year to graduate on time.

While not all students will be able to take 15 credits per semester, providing critical information about what it takes to graduate on time ensures students are making informed decisions about course loads, their time to degree and the costs associated with their academic pathway.

15 to Finish campaigns highlight the consequences of graduating late – including increased loan debt and lost wages – and encourage students to take at least 15 credits per semester or 30 credits per year (including summers) to ensure on-time completion. Additionally, research has shown that students who take at least 15 credits per semester are not only more likely to complete, they do better academically and are more likely to be retained year over year.

The result is a win-win for students and the schools they attend: better grades and faster completion for students and higher enrollments for colleges. 15 to Finish initiatives also help drive other changes, including scheduling solutions and financial incentives, to ensure institutions and systems are doing their part to make increased credit accumulation possible for their students.

Results from around the country show that many more students could be taking the credits needed to graduate on time. The University of Hawai’i System – where 15 to Finish originated – has doubled the percentage of first-time freshmen who enroll in 15 or more credits in their first semester. Since launching the initiative at its urban campus, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has increased the percentage of first-time, full-time students taking 15 credits from 28% in 2012 to 69% in 2016.

“There’s a glaring disconnect in American higher education: Most students tell us they want to graduate on time, but too few finish enough college courses each year – including summers – to do so,” said Complete College America Interim President Tom Sugar. “This vital partnership with academic advisors will empower these frontline leaders with tools and strategies to help more students accomplish more college credits each year, saving themselves and their families millions of dollars and making the dream of a college degree much more likely.”

“It is essential that advisors provide learning experiences for students by teaching them why taking 15 hours is important, but also helping them prepare for the study habits and time management needed to take this full load,” said NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt. “Teaching students how to develop proactive plans for being successful when taking 15 credits is the key role for academic advisors – not just informing students to register for these credits. This teaching role for academic advisors is essential in the success of all students in higher education today.”

The new partnership will provide resources, campaign materials and technical assistance, building upon the 13 state-wide and more than 120 campus-based 15 to Finish initiatives that are currently under way.


Complete College America and National Association of Colleges and Employers 

Over the past three years, Complete College America (CCA) and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) have partnered on events and publications to inform and develop Purpose First, a strategy designed to support students in their decision-making related to majors and careers. NACE members representing 2000 colleges and 1000 employer, activity support students’ transition from college to career. NACE curates leading practices, content, and research to advance evidence-based interventions to engage students and candidates. The early partnership has resulted in valuable insights and an opportunity to pursue a more formal relationship to further develop, implement and scale Purpose First, which will result in students making purposeful choices of a program, embarking on a well-designed path and ultimately following that path to a postsecondary credential 

CCA and think-cell

think-cell is a presentation software that integrates with PowerPoint and Excel to help visualize complex data using charts. It enables creating professional looking presentations while saving a significant amount of working time. Within minutes you get well-laid-out and great-looking slides. think-cell brings you 40+ chart types, dozens of data-driven visual enhancements, and other unique features.

Free licenses for think-cell will be provided to CCA staff for use on CCA Projects.

For detailed information on think-cell and its features, or to get a better idea of how it works, please visit