While elite and semi-elite college costs have soared, community colleges haven’t raised spending in the last 10 years, writes Matthew Yglesias, reprinting a chart from the Century Foundation’s new report on the higher education divide. “These institutions started off spending less to begin with” while serving students with the greatest needs.
Community colleges are worried about staying relevant “if massive open online courses (MOOCs) and other forms of online learning begin to offer students a high-quality, convenient, and low-cost pathway to a college degree,” writes Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers’ College, Columbia, in CCRC Currents.
So far, however, community college students find it difficult to learn online, according to CCRC studies.
We found that in the majority of online courses, students had little meaningful interaction with their instructors. While the courses frequently required interaction with peers in online discussion boards or chat rooms, most students did not value this peer-to-peer interaction and said it felt both artificial and of little educational value.
Students told us that if they expected to struggle in a subject or really “wanted to learn something,” they preferred a face-to-face classroom where they had more contact with the professor. In online courses, they reported, they were more or less on their own.
Online instructors expected students to be independent learners “able to manage their time, take initiative, and generate their own
approach to mastering course material.”
In What We Know About Online Course Outcomes, the CCRC summarizes its research on community college students’ success in all-online courses, looks at how online courses can be improved and discusses how online instructors “might create a more robust presence in their courses in order to improve student engagement and retention.”
First Year Undergraduate Remedial Course Taking declined significantly from 1999–2000, but rose slightly from 2003–04 to 2007–08, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
At two-year public colleges, 30.4 percent of first-year students report taking remedial courses in 1999-2000. That fell to 23.4 percent in 2003-04 and ticked up to 24 percent in 2007-08.
Percent of 1st-Year Undergraduates Reporting Remedial Coursetaking, by Institution Type
|For-profit 2-year or more||16.2||11.4||11.0|
The report relied on self-reporting by students not transcripts, notes Inside Higher Ed.
The proportion of students in developmental courses declined from 1999-2000 to 2007-8 for every type of institution and student trait, with the biggest drops seen for for-profit and public two-year institutions, students in certificate programs, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic students, and students in their mid-20s and older.
Students often don’t realize they’re in developmental courses, other research has shown. And those who drop out quickly aren’t around to be surveyed.
College enrollments declined by 1.8 percent in fall 2012 — 3.1 percent at community colleges, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. For-profit colleges took the biggest hit with a drop of 7.2 percent. Enrollment fell by 0.6 percent at four-year public colleges and universities, and rose by half a percentage point at four-year private nonprofit colleges.
College enrollments typically rise and fall with the unemployment rate, notes Inside Higher Ed.
So the fact that the enrollment boom that colleges enjoyed as the economy tanked in 2008 and 2009 has begun to reverse itself is in many ways to be expected.
But that suggests that the philanthropic and government efforts to get significant numbers of adults to go to college (or to return there) to pursue President Obama’s goal of driving up the number of Americans with a postsecondary credential may not be bearing much fruit.
Enrollment declines were bigger for full-time students, compared to part-timers, and for those aged 24 and older (-3.4 percent) compared to traditional-aged students (-0.7 percent).
Did Texas Just Discover the Cure for Sky-High Tuition? asks Lara Seligman in The Atlantic. Not really, she concludes.
Texas universities are offering bachelor’s degrees for $10,000, including tuition, fees and textbooks, pushed by Gov. Rick Perry. Average tuition alone in Texas at a public four-year institution is $8,354 a year, close to the national average.
In the Lone Star State, 10 institutions have so far responded to the governor’s call with unique approaches, ranging from a five-year general-degree pipeline that combines high school, community college, and four-year university credits to a program that relies on competency-based assessments to enable students to complete a degree in organizational leadership in as little as 18 months.
Angelo State University has created a four-year interdisciplinary-studies program for an overall cost of $9,974.
The University of Texas (Arlington) will offer a low-cost bachelor’s to students who’ve earning dual-enrollment credits in high school and spent a year at a local community college.
Texas A&M University (San Antonio), has designed a new $10,000 degree in information technology and security which should help graduates find military and security jobs in the region.
Universities aren’t becoming more efficient, however, Seligman warns.
. . . most of these programs would only reduce the price tag for the student, not the cost to the institution of providing the degree. While select students might pay less overall, institutions must deliver the same faculty, facilities, time, and knowledge they provide to students paying full price for their degrees.
If universities don’t find ways to improve productivity, they’ll have trouble subsidizing low-cost degrees.
Both President Obama and Gov.Mitt Romney linked education to economic growth in their first debate, notes the Denver Post.
The president called for increasing community college enrollment and controlling college costs.
“So now I want to hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers, and create 2 million more slots in our community colleges so that people can get trained for the jobs that are out there right now. And I want to make sure that we keep tuition low.”
“Education is key, particularly the future of our economy,” said Romney. He called for consolidating 47 federal job training programs and giving “dollars back to the states” and “to the workers so they can create their own pathways to get in the training they need.”
Accused by Obama of planning to “gut our investment in schools and education,” Romney said, “I’m not going to cut education funding” or “grants that go to people going to college,” reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Fifty percent of recent college graduates can’t find jobs, Romney said, blaming the president’s economic policies.
Obama took credit for increasing federal student aid and taking over college loan from banks.
In an appeal to Hispanic voters, President Obama’s new campaign ad accuses Gov. Romney of backing Pell Grant cuts and promises to control rising college costs, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. In the ad, released in Spanish and English, Obama says the U.S. will remain competitive by ”training two million Americans with the job skills they need at our community colleges, cutting the growth of tuition in half, and expanding student aid so more Americans can afford it.”
In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Obama called for a 50-percent reduction in tuition growth over a decade “but offered no details about how to achieve such a goal,” the Chronicle notes. Earlier this year, the president proposed linking a college’s eligibility for federal student aid to tuition growth, graduation rates and students’ employability without providing specifics.
“President Romney. What would that mean? For our kids, a difficult path to the university,” a narrator says. “Up to two million Hispanic students would see their Pell Grants cut by almost $1,000. Thousands more would lose access to the Work-Study Program. And with his plan, fewer resources for community colleges.”
“Register [to vote] today,” the narrator urges, “so that Romney doesn’t close these doors on us.”
Last week, the Republican challenger released a Spanish-language ad blaming the president and Democrats for rising tuition and soaring student debt.
Obama’s ad refers to Pell changes proposed in the House Republican budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate. But Romney has rejected a freeze on the maximum grant. In an interview with Univision, a Spanish-language network, Romney called for letting Pell Grants rise with inflation.
Ryan’s budget would reduce funding for Pell grants, which are given to low-income students to attend college, increase eligibility requirements and freeze the maximum grant at $5,550, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. President Obama supports raising the maximum to $5,635 – about a 1.5 percent increase.
Speaking at the event, hosted by Spanish-language TV station Univision and held at the University of Miami, Romney went against his vice presidential pick. “I care about your education and helping people of modest means get a good education and we’ll continue a Pell grant program,” he said.
Romney’s proposal to let grants rise with inflation could mean a 3 percent increase, larger than Obama’s proposed 1.5 percent.
Romney also told University of Miami students that what they need is “good jobs,” not more loans. “I don’t want to overwhelm you with debts. I want to make sure you can pay back the debts you’ve already got and that will happen with good jobs.”
Instead of requiring all nurses to enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree, nurses should be able to start with an associate degree and make “academic progress” throughout their careers, say organizations including the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community Colleges Trustees, the National League for Nursing and the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing.
Working together will facilitate the unity of nursing education programs and advance opportunities for academic progression, which may include seamless transition into associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs.
Community colleges fear “degree creep” could destroy very successful associate degree programs in nursing and other health-care fields, such as respiratory therapy. Nurses with associate and bachelor’s degrees show comparable levels of competence on licensing exams, according to a recent American Association of Community Colleges policy brief.
President Obama’s speech at thes Democratic Convention included a shout-out to community colleges and a call for controlling college costs. ”Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job,” the president said. “Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years.” Obama also praised the government’s takeover of student loans.
Students who enroll in associate’s degree programs at for-profit colleges raise their earnings as much as community college students — or more — concludes a new study, The Labor Market Returns to a For-Profit College Education. (Here’s the pdf.) Enrollees boost their previous earnings by 6 to 8 percent; graduates raise their pre-college earnings by 22 percent.
Stephanie Riegg Cellini, an assistant professor of public policy at George Washington University, and Latika Chaudhary, an assistant professor of economics at Scripps College, crunch the numbers in different ways: In some, for-profit college ”returns appear to be significantly higher than those of community college graduates.” For-profit graduates earned 34 percent more in one analysis, compared a 19 percent gain for community college graduates. “Moreover, for-profit graduates also appear to work more hours and be more likely to work full-time after graduation than public sector alumni.”
The picture is different for dropouts. Community college dropouts earn somewhat more than they did before enrolling, while for-profit dropouts may earn less. However, for-profit students are nearly twice as likely to complete an associate degree: 51 percent graduated at for-profit colleges, 27 percent at community colleges.
The researchers conclude:
Our analysis reveals that for-profit students generally experience positive earnings gains and labor market outcomes similar to those of students in the public sector. Given the much higher cost of a for-profit education relative to a public education, we expect that some students might find a community college a better investment, and further research is needed to assess whether the earnings gains from a for-profit education are enough to offset the high cost of attendance. Degree completion appears to be particularly important to student success in the for-profit sector and we suggest that, in the absence of earnings data, policymakers and prospective students should carefully study completion rates to assess the quality of a particular for-profit institution.
Community college tuition and fees average just $2,300 for in-state students; for-profit two-year colleges average $15,000.
. . . relative to community colleges, for-profit institutions (including aid-eligible two-year and four-year institutions) enroll a higher proportion of women (65 vs. 57 percent), blacks (22 vs. 14 percent), GED recipients (17 vs. 10 percent), and single parents (29 vs. 12 percent). Income differences are also substantial: the average income of a for-profit student is roughly $15,000-20,000 less than a community college student.
Community colleges offer many associate degrees in general education or liberal arts for would-be transfer students, while for-profit colleges specialize in career-related associate degrees. It would be useful to compare the earnings of community college students who enroll in vocational programs with for-profit students in the same specialties. Do community college nursing students do better or worse than for-profit nursing students?