Community college nursing programs are resisting “degree creep,” the push to make a bachelor’s degree the entry level for registered nurses, reports Community College Times.
Community colleges educate more than 40 percent of the nation’s nurses, said Thomas Snyder, president of Indiana’s Ivy Tech, who chairs the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges’ Nursing and Allied Health Professions Workgroup.
Nurses with ADNs pass licensure exams at the same or better rate than nurses with BSNs, said Stacey Ocander, dean of health and public services at Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Nebraska and president of the National Network of Health Career Programs in Two-Year Colleges.
However, it’s harder for ADN nurses to train and find jobs.
Some hospitals have already started to only hire nurses with BSNs, and hospitals all over the country—including two in Omaha where MCC is based—are refusing to open their doors to clinical experiences for community college students, Ocander said.
. . . “Ethically, how can hospitals say they won’t educate them? It is part of hospitals’ mission to provide service to the community,” she said. “They are discriminating against a whole class of people who have chosen a community college education.”
Eliminating the ADN would eliminate a step in the career ladder that makes it possible for disadvantaged students to become registered nurses, said Barbara Jones, president of South Arkansas Community College (SouthArk) and a former president of NN2.
“Starting with an 18-month LPN or CNA [certified nursing assistant] program is a wonderful opportunity for someone who never thought they could go to college,” said . . . Jones. An LPN can get a good job with benefits, and from there, it’s less daunting to pursue an associate degree, RN license and then a BSN.
. . . “Many of our students are first-generation college students, so it could take six or seven years to finish a degree if they are working and raising a family,” Jones said. “Sometimes the only way they can do it is with the stackable certificates—the learn-and-earn concept.”
At Ivy Tech, which graduates 1,300 nurses a year, many students are working adults or single parents, said Snyder. Requiring them to earn four-year degrees would cost an extra $20 million to $50 million a year with no improvement in patient care.
Community College Dean has more on “degree creep” for nursing.
More than 61 percent of community college transfers earn a bachelor’s degree in six years and another 8 percent are still trying, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Seventy-two percent of transfers with a two-year degree complete a four-year degree within six years, according to the Signature Report, compared to 56 percent of community college transfers with no previous credential.
Most community college transfers have not earned a credential.
“Stopping out” of college can be costly, the report found.
The gap in the six-year completion rate was large (26 percentage points) between students who transferred to a four-year institution within one year of their most recent enrollment at a two-year institution and students who transferred after stopping-out for more than one year.
Not surprisingly, full-time students are much more likely to earn a degree.
Too many Americans believe a young person who doesn’t earn a bachelor’s degree is a “second-class citizen,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, at Politico‘s Jobs of the Future event.
“We’ve actually made college less accessible because we’ve made it so unaffordable and we’ve plunged our children into debt,” Johnson said. “Let’s give our children and their parents the full range of options. Let’s quit preaching to them that their only path to success is a four-year degree.”
Young people are running up student loan debt to earn degrees employers don’t value, Johnson said.
Federal student loan debt has topped $1 trillion, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, agreed young people should consider the value of two-year degrees and community college education before running up student loan debts they’ll have difficulty repaying. “How can you start a business, how can you build a family, how can you buy a home, how can you be a consumer, which is vital to economic progress and job creation, if you’re paying off a $90,000 loan?”
Most entering community college students say they plan to earn a bachelor’s degree, but few reach that goal. Earning an associate degree before transferring significantly boosts the odds of success, concludes a Community College Research Center study in North Carolina. ”Relatively few students who transfer early ever complete a bachelor’s degree and thus leave college with no credential.”
. . . almost two thirds of students who start out in community college have no recognized credential up to nine years later; many transfer to another institution—either in the public, private, or for-profit sector—with the intention of earning a bachelor’s degree but ultimately terminate their postsecondary education without earning any degree.
Community college students who complete an associate degree will earn more than those who never completed a credential, the study found.
44% of Young College Grads Are Underemployed (and That’s Good News), writes Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic. In a weak economy, many new graduates have to take jobs that don’t require a college degree, argues Weissmann. It’s worse now “because the economy got fed through a wood chipper during the recession and we still haven’t picked up all the pieces,” not because a bachelor’s degree has lost value.
College graduates during the 80s and early 90s were as likely to be overqualified for their jobs as young graduates today, according to New York Fed President William Dudley. Most graduates then eventually found professional jobs.
The obvious difference between higher education today and in 1990 is the cost of a degree, and the amount of debt students take on to finance it. So while failing to land a college-level job straight out of school might have been tolerable in the past, today it might mean severe financial hardship, especially if students aren’t savvy about how to handle their student debt (three words: Income. Based. Repayment).
There’s evidence that young people who graduate into a recession and start lower on the job ladder never recover completely.
I’d like to see a good survey asking whether collegebound students understand their likely future earnings and loan payments. Do they know the risks? If they did, second- and third-tier private colleges would have to slash tuition or go out of business.
Be deeply suspicious of promises that a bachelor’s degree will raise earnings significantly, warns Tim Donovan on Salon. If the “higher interest rate convinces even a few 18-year-olds not to take on huge debt for that Musical Theater degree, maybe it’s not so bad,” he writes.
Community college transfers are just as likely to earn a bachelor’s degree as similar students who started at a four-year university, according to The Community College and Bachelor’s Degree Completion: Fact or Fiction? by the Illinois Education Research Council (IERC).
Eighty-four percent of Illinois high school graduates who transferred after completing two, full-time years at a community college earned a bachelor’s degree within five additional years, compared to 90 percent of rising juniors who’d enrolled in a four-year college directly after high school.
However, community college transfers had lower grades, ACT scores and family incomes, notes Community College Times. When researchers matched pre-college demographic and environmental factors, they found “community college transfer students were just as likely to complete a bachelor’s as four-year rising juniors.”
The authors then used a “post-treatment adjustment” to account for institutional differences that could affect students’ completion of a bachelor’s degree. Community college transfer students were matched to a four-year rising junior from the same high school with a similar likelihood of being a community college transfer student and who attended a similarly selective four-year college.
When the two groups were matched for “institutional selectivity,” there was just a 1 percentage-point difference favoring the rising four-year juniors, which lacked statistical significance.
“No community college penalty was evident,” the report said.
The IERC study used rigorous methods to create an “apples-to-apples comparison,” said Christopher Mullin, program director for policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). In Transfer: An Indispensable Part of the Community College Mission, published by AACC in October, Mullin concluded that whether a transfer student earns a bachelor’s degree has a lot to do with the extent to which the four-year institution accepts community college credits.
First Generation Student, a new web site, provides sensible advice for students who will be the first in their families to go to college. Jaimie Krause writes about developing academic resiliency. In another post, Mark Kantrowitz offers financial aid tips, starting with finding a mentor.
It’s also important to connect with other students on sites such as First Generation Student and I’m First, writes Kantrowitz. For example, Garret Juliano, who’s studying business and accounting at Western Piedmont Community College in North Carolina, can serve as a role model.
However, Kantrowitz warns first-generation students to start at a four-year college or university if their goal is a bachelor’s degree.
A community college program is an inexpensive way to obtain a certificate or an associate degree. However, if your goal is to obtain a bachelor’s degree, taking a detour through a community college to save money may mean that you never reach your destination. Half of first-generation students who begin their higher education at a four-year college intending to obtain a bachelor’s degree earn that degree within six years of enrollment, compared with a quarter of those who start their studies at a community college.
Parents who aren’t college educated have trouble understanding how much college will cost, write Susan Dynarski Judith Scott-Clayton in The Future of Children.
Calculating the net price of college for a given family requires understanding their finances as well as the rules of the Pell Grant, student loans, the tuition tax credits, state grant programs, and aid offered by individual colleges.
Students “are quite poor at estimating net prices,” they write. Some don’t apply for financial aid because they don’t realize they’re eligible.
Texans who earn a vocational certificate often earn more than associate-degree graduates in their first year in the workforce, concludes Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates of Texas Public Colleges and Universities Who Are Working in Texas. Some workers with certificates earn more than $70,000 – $30,000 more than the median for graduates with bachelor’s degrees, concludes the Lumina-funded study by College Measures, a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Matrix Knowledge Group.
The median starting pay for criminal justice/police science certificate holders is $48,192, double the compared with $24,298 for those with an academic associate’s degree. Some health-care certificates allowed graduates to earn $70,000. Other high-paying certificates included: construction engineering technology/technician, electrician, pipefitting, engineering, industrial technology, and instrumentation technician.
However, not all certificates lead to high-paying jobs. Recipients of two dozen certificate programs earned less than $13,000 in their first year on the job. Cosmetologists and nursing/patient care assistants usually earned low wages.
Technical associate’s degrees pay well: The median starting salary is more than $50,000. By contrast, an academic associate degree lead to median earnings of $24,298,
First-year earnings for bachelor’s degree holders range from about $25,000 (biology) to about $47,000 (accounting): The average is $39,725.
Community college graduates’ first-year salaries vary from one college to another.
Academic associate’s degrees range from about $10,000 (Ranger College) to more than $30,000 for graduates from the Trinity Campus of Tarrant County Junior College and from Central Texas Community College.
For graduates with technical degrees, the range is even greater, from about $20,000 for graduates of Clarendon College to more than $65,000 for graduates from seven community colleges: College of the Mainland Community College District, San Jacinto College South Campus, Tarrant County Junior College South Campus, Galveston College, El Centro College, Trinity Valley Community College and Weatherford College.
A national study and analyses in Tennessee and Virginia have found similar results: Technical certificates and associate degrees often pay better than non-technical bachelor’s degrees at the start of graduates’ careers.
Tracking students’ progress through the core curriculum can help community colleges improve success rates for students who hope to earn a bachelor’s degree, suggests a new Community College Research Center report.
About 70 percent of community colleges say they want to transfer to earn a four-year degree. Most never make it.
Researchers analyzed data from community colleges in two states with different transfer policies.
State A requires a 42-credit general education core curriculum. All core courses are transferable, but transfers aren’t guaranteed junior status, even if they’ve earned an associate degree. In State B, a 36-credit core is required and statewide articulation agreements guarantee junior standing for transfer students who’ve earned an associate degree.
Over five years, 29 percent of students at College B completed the 36-unit core; only 12 percent completed the 42-unit core at College A.
After five years, students who completed the core were much more likely to complete a degree compared to those who completed most of the requirements (30-41 credits at College A and 30-35 credits at College B).
For example, while only 8 percent of students who accumulated 30-41 credits at College A earned an award at their community college and/or at the four-year college to which they transferred, 54 percent of students who completed the core did so. The corresponding results for College B are 17 percent (for those who accumulated 30-35 credits) and 70 percent (for those who completed the core).
Encouraging near-completers to earn an associate degree before transferring would boost success rates, the study advises.
Students were most likely to meet social sciences requirements and struggled the most to earn math and science credits.
Whether college pays — in dollars — depends on where you go and what you study. College Risk Report, a web site created by 29-year-old Jared Moore, asks the collegebound to enter their prospective college or university and their major. It estimates how long it would take to pay off a bachelor’s degree and compares that to the payoff for an associate degree at an “average” community college or a high school diploma.
Forbes asked the site to analyze the time needed to pay off loans for an art degree from a small liberal arts college, Marymount Manhattan.
Earning a four-year degree in art would pay less over a lifetime than getting a two-year degree or “simply being an artist right out of high school,” notes Forbes. An engineering degree from a state university has a faster payoff and is worth much more than two-year degree.