Colorado community colleges will offer bachelor of applied science degrees in career and technical fields.Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation that makes Colorado the 22nd state to expand community colleges’ role.
Applied science includes fields such as dental hygiene, culinary arts, respiratory therapy and water quality management.
Community colleges will not be allowed to offer bachelor’s degrees that compete with state universities in their area.
Starting at a community college will cut the cost of a bachelor’s degree, but students have to be savvy to make it work, writes Lisa Ward in the Wall Street Journal.
Transferring credits can be be “complicated and confusing,” she writes. Students and parents should research whether their state has coordinated community college and state university credits.
For example, California, Louisiana and Texas guarantee admission to a four-year state university to any student who earns an associate degree at an in-state community college. Florida has the same guarantee for an associate of arts, but transfers will need high grades and prerequisites to get into popular majors at prestigious schools.
Some states, including Texas and Florida, use the same numbering system for community college and state university courses. Psych 101 is the same at every school, making it easier for students to know which credits will transfer.
Hybrid degree programs also help transfers earn low-cost bachelor’s degrees.
Houston Community College and University of Texas at Tyler designed a program where students can earn an associate’s degree in engineering from HCC and then enroll at UT Tyler, as long as their grade-point average is 2.5 or higher. The program sets the student up for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical, electrical or civil engineering.
“It costs $19,000, for all four years, if you live in-state,” says David Le, who is enrolled in the program. “No one ever believes me when I tell them how cheap it is,” says Mr. Le, who lives at home because the program is taught entirely at HCC’s campus.
Earning college credit in high school also cuts the cost of a degree. Most schools offer Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses that enable students to earn college credit. Increasingly, students can earn credits through “dual enrollment” or “early college” classes, which often are taught by community college instructors.
“In many cases, dual enrollment and early college are the absolutely cheapest way to earn college credit because it’s free,” says Dilip Das, assistant vice provost at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
On Sept. 17, Constitution Day, a Modesto Junior College student was told he couldn’t hand out copies of the Constitution on campus outside the small free-speech zone which already was in use. To settle Robert Van Tuinen’s First Amendment lawsuit, the California college will allow free speech on campus and pay $50,000 to the Army veteran, now a photography student.
Van Tuinen’s videotaped encounter with a campus police officer drew national media attention.
Fifty-nine percent of colleges restrict student speech, said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
Under the settlement, Modest Junior College students and faculty will not need college permission to express their views in all “areas generally available to students and the community.”
“They were maintaining an unconstitutional speech code, and now any of my fellow students can go out and exercise their right to free speech,” Van Tuinen told Fox News.
Maine students should pay no tuition in their sophomore year at a University of Maine campus, proposes Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democratic candidate for governor. ”One-third of first-year students don’t continue on to their sophomore year,” the “Sophomore Year Free” plan states. “Affordability is a major obstacle” to completion.
Michaud also proposes giving the state’s community colleges an extra $1 million to add summer classes.
At the community college level, it would be hard to define “sophomore year.” What about part-timers, transfers and students who started out in developmental courses? “Free” would leave a lot of federal financial aid on the table.
Still, using pricing to reward desired student behavior is “worth exploring,” writes Reed.
DeVry, a for-profit, used “plateau pricing” when Reed worked there. Students paid for the first 12 credits in a semester; the next four credits were free. That encouraged them to take more credits and finish on time.
Another option is a refundable “graduation deposit” paid on enrollment. Students would get the money back only if they earned a credential. It would be a financial hardship for students, writes Reed.
If it forced students to think about their commitment to completion, it might cut enrollment drastically.
Community colleges are a boon to the economy and to their students, according to Where Value Meets Values, a report by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
In 2012 alone, the net total impact of community colleges on the U.S. economy was $809 billion in added income, equal to 5.4 percent of GDP. Over time, the U.S. economy will see even greater economic benefits, including $285.7 billion dollars in increased tax revenue as students earn higher wages and $19.2 billion in taxpayer savings as students require fewer safety net services, experience better health, and lower rates of crime.
Students also see a significant economic benefit. For every one dollar a student spends on his or her community college education, he or she sees an ROI of $3.80.
Associate-degree holders average $41,900 per year in mid-career, about $10,700 more than someone with just a high-school diploma, the report estimated.
Community colleges deliver a negative return on investment to taxpayers – though a positive return to students –because of the high dropout rate, an October report found. The earlier report focused more narrowly on tuition costs and post-graduation salaries, observes the Chronicle of Higher Education.
An author of that report, Mark S. Schneider, a vice president of the American Institutes for Research and president of College Measures, thinks the AACC report exaggerates the societal benefits. The AACC researchers “didn’t acknowledge that students who attend college are already less likely to pose risks or added costs to society,” he told the Chronicle. “It assumes that if you didn’t graduate from a community college, you’re going to be a fat, smoking criminal, which is just not true.”
Overweight and obese girls earn lower grades and are less likely to go to college, concludes a new study. That’s the primary reason educated adults are slimmer and healthier, the researchers concluded. It’s not that “higher education confers lifelong social, economic, and psychological benefits that help adults” make healtheir choices.
Dropouts are trying to finish high school at community college, reports Northeast Ohio Public Radio.
Owens Community College staffer Michelle Atkinson hands out “Eleven Commandments” to Gateway to College students. Included are: “Never miss class, pay attention in class, pretend you’re interested even when you’re not.”
Gateway to College, a national program, gives high-risk students a second chance, says Atkinson.
“They might have been having trouble socially, they might not have been challenged enough,” she said. “So putting them into a college environment might put them into a little bit more independence where they have to rise and meet the academic endeavors that they need to in order to succeed.”
Students begin by taking classes in reading, writing, math and college skills. Once they’ve completed high school, they can begin earning college credits.
It’s a challenge, says Gateway director James Jackson. “Basically, we’re taking kids that were not successful in high school and putting them in college and expecting them to be successful.”
Students, all Toledo residents between 16 and 21, must read at the ninth grade level or better and have completed at least five high school credits. At the mandatory interview Jackson listens to how applicants talk about themselves.
“Are they the victim in all of the stories, are they the heroes in all of their stories, or do they have that balance that most of us have,” he said. “And what I’ve found, some students have terrible home life situations, we’re talking abusive families, extreme poverty, but despite all of those odds against them, they still believe that they’re worth getting their high school education.”
Matthew Tammarine, 18, dropped out of a traditional high school and then a virtual charter, before enrolling as a Gateway student at Owens two years ago. He’s on track to earn an associate degree in two more years. Last semester, he had a B average. Tutoring and meetings with peer mentors have helped. Gateway students also get bus passes, a daily lunch and access to staff members.
America’s Forgotten Student Population looks at how community colleges can create paths to college success for GED completers.
Completion rates are low at Indiana’s public two-year colleges, reports the state Commission for Higher Education. The six-year completion rate for students seeking certificates or degrees is 28.2 percent. That includes transfers and students who earned a lower-level credential than originally sought.
Two-year public colleges spend an average of $31,369 for each degree produced, half the per-degree cost of four-year colleges and universities.
At Ivy Tech, the state community college system, the cost per degree is $30,120. Ivy Tech’s six-year completion rate — any credential at any campus — is 27.7 percent for full-time students and 20.8 percent for part-timers.
Only 15.7 percent of blacks who start at Ivy Tech have earned a credential within six years, compared to 26.8 percent of Hispanics, 29.6 percent of whites and 35.7 percent of Asians.
At Indiana’s four-year colleges and universities, the six-year completion rate is 68.6 percent. That includes any degree at any campus.
California may let community colleges offer low-cost bachelor’s degrees, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
It would “save us money in the long run,” said State Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, who’s introduced a bill to authorize one bachelor’s program per campus for a few college districts.
It’s getting harder for graduates to find jobs in fields such as nursing and respiratory therapy with just an associate degree, but it’s also harder to transfer into state university programs.
Ruby Guzman waited three years to get into the Contra Costa College nursing program, and now, about to earn an associate degree, she’s on the wait list at Cal State East Bay. ”It just feels like roadblock after roadblock,” Guzman said.
Community colleges in 21 states offer four-year degree programs. “I’d just like to see California catch up with the rest of the nation,” said Linda Thor, chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.
Both critics and advocates worry the state won’t adequately fund the programs, notes the Mercury News. “That’s always the million-dollar question, like are you going to pay for it?” said Aaron Bielenberg, president of the college system’s student senate.
Now that the state budget outlook has improved, momentum is building, said Barry Russell, president of Las Positas College in Livermore. ”I think it’s an inevitable move that needs to be made,” said Russell.
Each year, De Anza College‘s automotive technology program graduates about 140 students. With a certificate or associate degree, they will get good jobs as technicians, but their career options are limited, said Randy Bryant, the department head.
Moving up at a dealership or opening their own shop now requires a bachelor’s degree or higher, but Bryant says his students often fear transferring to a four-year business program — and he wants them to be able to “finish what they start here.”
Bryant is designing a four-year automotive management degree, which combines technical skills with “courses in ethics, entrepreneurship, management, sales and marketing, and inventory control.”
If the bill passes, there will be pressure to offer more than one four-year degree at each campus. At Foothill College, the dental hygiene and the respiratory therapy programs already want to offer bachelor’s degrees.
Michigan has joined Oregon in proposing a “Pay It Forward” student lending system, writes Susan M. Dynarski. Students would pay no tuition up front and pay back a fixed percentage of their income after college. The idea is flawed but fixable, writes Dynarski.
In both the Michigan and Oregon versions of Pay It Forward, a borrower pays a fixed percentage of income for a fixed number of years. A high earner would pay much more than she borrowed; a low earner would pay much less.
In a Hamilton Project proposal, Dynarski proposes a change in income-based repayment — or Pay It Forward — that would encourage aspiring high earners to participate.
Denominate debt in dollars, and let borrowers pay their debt. If a student borrows $25,000 and (due to pluck and luck) earns enough that she has paid back the principal plus interest after just ten years, she will stop paying into the program. If a borrower instead runs into hard times and still owes money after 25 years, the balance will be forgiven.
In this way, both Pay It Forward and my income-contingent repayment would subsidize low earners without driving away high earners, concludes Dynarski.