New name, new identity

Edison State College isn’t just changing its name to Florida SouthWestern State College, reports the News-Press. It’s changing its identity. Once a community college, the new Florida SouthWestern will offer 10 baccalaureate degrees and on-campus housing.

Admissions staff are recruiting out-of-state students and bolstering scholarship programs to attract a brighter student body. Intercollegiate athletics will resurface in 2015.

The next addition will be a director of international education, which will coordinate study abroad, faculty and student exchanges, sister college agreements and internship opportunities. Edison State also has contracted with a consulting firm to help develop an office that will coordinate research efforts and grants.

“Is this us? Is this who we are?” trustee Brian Chapman asked rhetorically.

Florida’s community colleges have become “state colleges” as they added four-year programs. Under pressure from the state’s universities, legislators approved  a moratorium on new four-year degrees at state colleges.

That will delay Edison State’s plans to add a technical communication and emerging media major.

“We basically had to lay our degree on the altar,” said Edison President Jeff Allbritten.

Tami Cullens, a trustee at South Florida State College, attended Tuesday’s meeting to encourage Edison leaders to push legislators for more funding. She noted public universities saw substantial funding increases for 2014-15, but state colleges will collect minimally more money for operations.

“We’ve got to stop being the stepchild,” said Cullens, who chairs the Association of Florida Colleges.

The name change became official on July 1. The college has picked a new logo and colors, purple and aqua.

What’s in a name?

Henry Ford Community College is rebranding itself as Henry Ford College. The 75-year-old college in Dearborn, Michigan hopes to start offering a four-year degree in culinary arts.

Almost 40 colleges have dropped “community” from their names in the past decade,reports the Wall Street Journal.

“We’re seeing more and more community colleges offering bachelor’s degrees, which is the associated phenomenon,” said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow with the left-leaning Century Foundation. “Shedding the word ‘community’ is an important step toward attracting a broader cross-section of students.”

Henry Ford College has launched a marketing campaign with a new vision statement—”First Choice. Best Choice.”

. . . the school faces big challenges. Its graduation rate within three years for first-time, full-time students typically hovers in the single digits, compared with around 20% nationally for public two-year institutions. A school spokesman said Henry Ford is working to improve its graduation rate as well as its transfer rate—the rate at which students jump over to four-year institutions, which was 39% in 2012, according to federal data.

This fall, three community colleges in Seattle will drop “community” from their names.

In Florida, where community colleges now offer workforce-related bachelor’s degrees, most have switched to “college” or “state college.”

Illinois: Let us offer 4-year degrees

Illinois should join 22 other states in letting community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in technical and applied science fields, argues Robert L. Breuder, president of the College of DuPage in the Chicago suburbs.

The College of DuPage works with nearby universities to offer 3+1 and 2+2 baccalaureate opportunities, but students say they want to finish a four-year degree at one college.”Why are you making me leave?” students ask.”Why don’t you offer the rest of my degree?”

CCs add 4-year degrees, but face pushback

Twenty-three Florida community colleges now offer four-year degrees in high-demand vocational fields, but a bill in the Legislature would prevent colleges from adding bachelor’s degrees without legislative approval. Currently, the state education board authorizes new four-year degrees at two-year colleges.

With tuition two-thirds cheaper at a community college compared to a state university, the lawmakers behind the bill warn that it’s unfair competition. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), said many community colleges are offering more than just specialized bachelor’s degrees, such as nursing and public safety, and are competing with state universities to offer more general degrees, like history, at less cost.

Gov. Rick Scott thinks competition will help students. He’s challenged community colleges to offer four-year degrees with a price tag of $10,000. Daytona State College will be the first with a $10,000 bachelor’s in education.

Students are enthusiastic about the four-year option, writes Jon Marcus for the Hechinger Report.  At Florida community colleges — now called state colleges — more than 30,000 students are pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

It’s cheaper and more convenient than attending a four-year university, especially for working parents and part-time students, who make up a large proportion of community college attendees.

The cost of a baccalaureate course at St. Petersburg College is $118.70 per credit hour, compared to $211.19 at the nearby University of South Florida. . . .

Universities are resisting the trend in many states. Community colleges typically are limited to degrees in vocational fields.

Colorado legislators approved letting community colleges offer four-year degrees only after satisfying Colorado State University and the University of Colorado — whose lobbying was blamed for killing a previous version of a proposal — that they would be limited to career and technical fields such as culinary arts and dental hygiene.

In Michigan, similar legislation was passed over the concerted, years-long opposition of that state’s public universities, which said letting community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees was mission creep, blurs the distinction between different branches of higher education and raises quality concerns. In the end, the community colleges were limited to baccalaureate programs in maritime studies, culinary arts, energy production and concrete technology.

California legislators have rejected four-year degrees at community college three times since 2009, but a new proposal has a good chance of success.

Seattle colleges will drop ‘community’

Three Seattle community colleges are dropping “community” from their names in the fall, reports the Seattle Times. The three will become known as Seattle Central College, South Seattle College and North Seattle College.

All three now offer a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree program for students who have completed a two-year technical degree.

The Seattle Community Colleges District board of trustees, which will become Seattle Colleges, approved the chance unanimously. “We believe this will inspire prospective students to reach higher than they thought possible,” said Chancellor Jill Wakefield.

Colorado OKs 4-year degrees at 2-year colleges

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.

California eyes 4-year degrees at 2-year colleges

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.

Xin Xie listens to clinical instructor Evelyn Joyce Bettencourt, right, in the dental hygiene program at Foothill College

Student Xin Xie listens to clinical instructor Evelyn Joyce Bettencourt, right, in the dental hygiene program at Foothill College as she works on student partner, Ashley Mork. (Gary Reyes, Bay Area News Group)

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.

More 2-year colleges add 4-year degrees

More community colleges are offering bachelor’s degrees in career fields, reports Community College Daily.

South Seattle Community College (SSCC) added a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, which lets graduates seek a supervisory job in the hotel or restaurant industry.

North Dakota’s universities don’t offer a bachelor’s degree in energy management, so Bismarck State College (BSC) started a program to meet industry demand.

Courses are entirely online and are in eight-week blocks rather than the traditional 16 weeks. Only about 10 percent of the 250 students in the program are in North Dakota; the rest are all over the country. Most are adults already working in the field, although there are some traditional students who’ve just completed an associate degree.

California community colleges hope to offer four-year degrees in vocational majors.

The chief executive officers of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association (SDICCCA) this week voted unanimously to endorse the concept. SDICCCA comprises the nine community colleges in the six college districts of San Diego and Imperial counties: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, Imperial Community College District, MiraCosta Community College District, Palomar Community College District, San Diego Community College District and Southwestern Community College District.

“Our local community colleges excel at preparing students to enter the workforce in career technical fields such as nursing and allied health, ”Melinda Nish, SDICCCA president and superintendent/president of Southwestern College, said in a statement. “It’s time for California to join this national movement and address our local workforce and student needs.”

Colorado community colleges are trying again to add four-year degrees, despite a defeat in the legislature last year, reports the Denver Post. Possible majors included dental hygiene and mortuary science.

Higher ed pays — for technical grads

Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others concludes a Lumina-funded report by Dr. Mark Schneider, the president of College Measures. “What you study matters more than where you study,” says Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  Learning technical and occupational skills pays off, even for graduates of low-prestige colleges and universities. A music, photography or creative writing graduate from a prestige university will struggle.

Schneider analyzed first-year earnings of graduates of two-year and four-year colleges in Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Some short-term credentials, including occupational associate’s degrees and certificates, are worth as much or more than bachelor’s degrees, the study found. For example, Texans with technical associate’s degrees averaged more than $11,000 more than four-year graduates in their first year in the workforce.

Certificates that require one or two years of study may raise earnings as much as an associate degree, especially a transfer-oriented degree.

In Texas, certificate holders earned almost $15,000 more on average than graduates with academic associate’s degrees, but about $15,000 less than graduates with technical associate’s degrees.

Not surprisingly engineering degrees have the biggest payoff, followed by nursing and other health-related fields. What is a surprise is the weak demand for biology and chemistry graduates. “The S in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is oversold,” the report found.

Despite the clamoring for more students to focus on STEM, the labor market shows less demand for science skills. Employers are paying more, often far more, for graduates with degrees in technology, engineering and math. There is no evidence that Biology or Chemistry majors earn a premium wage, compared with engineers, computer/information science or math majors. The labor market returns for science are similar to those of the liberal arts, like English Language and Literature.

Women now make up a majority of biology graduates and about half of chemistry majors.

“Prospective students need sound information about where their educational choices are likely to lead” before they go into debt, the report concludes.

Fewer 4-year grads enroll at 2-year colleges

Slightly fewer four-year graduates in 2010 enrolled in a community college within two years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The number dropped from 6.5 percent for 2009 graduates to 6.1 percent, perhaps because of improving economic conditions.

More than 14 percent of biology and biomedical graduates enrolled in community colleges, probably to study for a nursing degree.

“There was a lot of speculation during the Great Recession about humanities majors, who couldn’t find jobs with their bachelors’ degrees, flocking to community colleges to learn computer networking,” stated Dr. Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the Research Center. “Our student-level data shows that the reality was a slight uptick in some fields, layered on top of longer-term trends. As we pull out of the recession, the numbers are starting to trend back down.”

One in four community college students has earned a postsecondary credential already, says Christopher Mullin, program director for policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).