Solar energy is helping community colleges control utility costs, reports Daily Finance. SunPower has installed 20 megawatts of solar panels at a dozen community colleges in California. The schools expect to save $5.4 million per year.
College of the Desert‘s solar panels — on top of carports – will generate about two-thirds of the school’s total electricity needs. Savings will be used to fund academic programs.
The college collaborated with First Solar and Palo Verde Community College on the Desert Sunlight Solar Project. In addition to donating equipment, First Solar provided training and curricula.
Mercer County Community College in New Jersey hopes its solar system will supply 70 percent of the college’s energy needs and save it $775,000 annually.
According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, there are now more than 541 solar installations on 322 college campuses spread across 45 states.
California is losing its higher education edge, warns a new report. State universities and community colleges must be redesigned to produce the educated workers the economy needs, said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who commissioned the report.
The percentage of young adults earning associate and bachelor’s degrees in California already is below the U.S. average, warns the Committee for Economic Development, which wrote the report. The higher education system must be redesigned to serve an increasingly diverse and low-income population, CED advised.
Along with boosting graduation rates at Cal State and community college campuses, which enroll the vast majority of the state’s college students, the study calls for greater collaboration with for-profit private colleges, employers and K-12 schools.
Lead author Patrick Callan, president of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said that if the state is serious about meeting its “productivity challenge,” it will need to create “new kinds of institutions that take advantage of innovative instructional technologies and business plans to develop nontraditional ways of providing high-quality postsecondary education programs.”
“Modest injections of funding” and “tweaks in current educational policy and practice” won’t be enough to fix California’s underperforming higher education system, said Newsom.
Community colleges are investing in new health-care training facilities, reports Community College Times. As baby boomers age, the “medical industrial complex” is expected to grow. That means more jobs in nursing, radiology, health information technology, physical therapy, dentistry and surgical technology.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 26 percent spike in jobs for registered nurses by 2020, a 32 percent increase in jobs for pharmacy technicians, a 28 percent increase in jobs for radiologic technologists, and a 33 percent increase in jobs for emergency medical technicians, among other sectors.
Elgin Community College near Chicago has built a new $41 million Health and Life Sciences Building and “strengthened relations with area hospitals, clinics, and other health care partners that take our students for their clinical experiences,” says Wendy Miller, the college’s dean of health professions. The college plans to add new certificate programs in magnetic resonance imaging, computer tomography, and mammography.
A consortium of three Maryland community colleges shares the Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education, which opened in August 2012. Students from Carroll Community College, Frederick Community College and Howard Community College study at the center.
“Stopping out” — taking a semester or more off — is very common for Texas community college students, according to a new study, reports USA Today. Ninety-four percent of community college students who first enrolled in 2000 stopped out at least once, Toby Park, a Florida State professor, found.
Of students who completed a degree, 76 percent were one-time stopouts. Taking two or more breaks sharply cut the odds of completion.
Mentoring and personal relationships were what kept Tim Semonich, now a junior at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., enrolled at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem on his second try.
Semonich dropped out his first semester, thinking that college wasn’t for him. After working for two years, he decided to give college a second chance.
“The second time, I put more effort in and made connections with professors and deans,” Semonich says.
The more he got involved with school activities, such as speech team and student government, the more he enjoyed it. Semonich later went on to earn a full scholarship to Moravian.
Taxpayers spent nearly $4 billion from 2004 to 2009 on community college students who dropped out after their first year, reports USA Today.
Celeste Brewer stopped out of the University of Florida and Santa Fe Community College (Florida). ”If I was offered work, then I would skip class because I had to pay my bills,” she says. She got a third chance at Miami Dade College, where she’s close to a degree in aviation administration.
After one year at the University of California, Michelle Willens stopped out. Forty years later, she’s working on a bachelor’s degree. In The Atlantic, she writes about what it’s like to be a middle-aged college student.
Adjuncts don’t hurt — or help — student success at community colleges, concludes a preliminary study. Most research shows adjuncts aren’t as effective, notes Inside Higher Ed. But a study released earlier in the fall found students may learn more from adjuncts, “at least at research universities.”
Hongwei Yu, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Office of Community College Research and Leadership, was lead author of The Effect of Part-time Faculty on Students’ Degree and/or Certificate Completion in Two-Year Community Colleges.
The authors attribute their findings regarding adjuncts and student success to the possibility that community colleges “hire a significant percentage of part-time faculty who come directly from professional fields and have practical experiences, skills, and knowledge [...] which may help students achieve degree or certificate completion in two-year community colleges. In addition, part-time faculty may provide students connections to workplace or a community.”
Researchers found lower completion rates at large community colleges (10,000 or more students) and at rural colleges. High school grades also correlated with completion rates.
Some adjuncts are trying to organize for better treatment, but there’s a large pool of people with advanced degrees and limited job prospects.
The Adjunct Question is the topic for the week at National Journal.
Does Online Learning Help Community College Students Attain a Degree? Yes, in some cases, concludes research by Peter Shea, an associate professor of education at the State University of New York at Albany.
Online community college students in Virginia and Washington state have higher failure and dropout rates, according to earlier studies by the the Community College Research Center.
Shea, who used to run SUNY’s online education system, found the CCRC’s conclusions “counterintuitive,” he told Inside Higher Ed. Online education’s flexibility and convenience should help students advance, he believes.
In contrast to the CCRC studies, the Albany research found that students who had enrolled in at least one online course in their first year did not come into college with better academic preparation than did those who took no courses at a distance.
And students who took online courses at a distance were 1.25 times likelier to earn a credential (certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree) by 2009 than were their peers who had not taken any online courses. Those who started college with a goal of attaining a certificate (rather than a bachelor’s degree) and took online courses were 3.22 times as likely to earn a credential than were students who did not take online courses.
Shea used a nationally representative data set, he points out. Virginia and Washington state could be outliers.
Shanna Jaggars, a co-author of the Community College Research Center studies, said the Albany study may include more adult students. ”For older students who are working full-time and have children, the ability to maintain a full-time load by mixing in one or two online courses per semester may outweigh the negative consequences of performing slightly more poorly in each online course they take.”
Nursing student James Marsh shows criminal justice and corrections student Denzel Conze a jar of tar that represents one year’s worth of smoking in the lungs. — Carrie Chantler, The Citizen
Cayuga Community College (New York) nursing students are trying to help classmates quit smoking, reports The Citizen. Student volunteers are urging smokers to try the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Web Assisted Tobacco Intervention. Since September, 35 smokers have signed on to the digital interactive “quit tool.”
“College and career readiness” is the goal — but not the reality — for all high school graduates. Making the Most of 12th Grade in the Common Core Era, a policy brief by the Community College Research Center and Jobs for the Future, looks at ways to help students who aren’t on track for success.
Currently, 68 percent of community college students and 40 percent of students at open-access four-year colleges require one or more remedial classes, according to the CCRC. While 43 percent of community college students who need remediation graduate in eight years, only 28 percent of remedial students complete a credential.
Seven states and the District of Columbia — plus a number of school districts — are creating “transition” curricula to help low-scoring 12th-graders avoid remediation in college. Usually, these involve a special course, online tutorials and sometimes help with study skills and “college knowledge.” Tennessee’s SAILS (Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support) pilot uses a mix of online and teacher-led learning to teach key math competencies.
The Southern Regional Ed Board has designed model literacy and math courses for high-risk students.
Early college high school and dual enrollment programs also can help high-risk students prepare for college, the policy brief concludes. Once in community college, accelerated remediation and redesigned developmental math (statistics and quantitative reasoning for non-STEM students) show promise.
“Acceleration is more motivating than remediation,” writes Joel Vargas of Jobs for the Future. “The students who will struggle most with the Common Core are likely to be the same ones who struggle now to graduate high school and enroll in college. They will be disproportionately low-income and minority youth, often English language learners, whose parents did not attend college themselves.”
Fewer international students are enrolling in U.S. community colleges, while more are choosing baccalaureate colleges, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors 2013 report.
Community colleges’ international enrollments fell by 1.4 percent in 2012-13, the fourth consecutive decline, notes Community College Times. The number of international students increased by 2.9 percent at baccalaureate colleges.
The Houston Community College System in Texas has 5,333 international students this academic year, followed by Santa Monica College in California with 3,471 students and De Anza College in California with 2,728 student. Lone Star College in Texas with 2,112 students and Northern Virginia Community College with 1,901 students rounded the top five community colleges.
China is sending an increasing number of students to U.S. colleges and universities.
“Chinese students and their parents are looking for high quality education, get the importance of international education and it’s making America the No. 1 destination because we actually have the capacity to absorb international students,” said Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the institute.
The number of Saudi students increased by 30 percent thanks to a government scholarship program.