Maryland university leaders are telling students to start at community college to save money, reports the Baltimore Sun.
“If we’re going to find a way to keep higher education affordable, community colleges are going to play a very significant role,” says William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the state’s university system.
Maryland’s state university system is creating uniform course requirements to facilitate transfers and “investing grant money to help community colleges keep their students in programs until they complete them,” reports the Sun.
“There’s this transformational thing happening around community colleges,” says Nancy Shapiro, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at the state university system. “They’re probably the most exciting place to be in higher education.”
The university system is seeing more transfers from community colleges. Those who become full-time students graduate at the same rate as students who started as freshmen.
Students who complete teacher education, nursing and engineering programs at two-year colleges are guaranteed junior status at any state university that admits them. (Half of Maryland teachers started at a community college.) Colleges are trying to develop more majors with a seamless transition.
Other possible lures for transfers include discount-price credits, more flexible schedules designed to mimic those at community colleges and joint admission programs that would guarantee students the chance to move on to specific four-year universities.
With a Lumina Foundation grant, the university system is advising two-year colleges on redesigning remedial math and English composition courses.
Enrollment is surging at community colleges. “In Baltimore County, popular classes meet at 6 a.m. and on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons,” reports the Sun. If more students are persuaded to start at a community college, Maryland will need to provide more funding for instructors and classrooms.