Seven out of 10 high school graduates choose college, observes Smart Shoppers, a report by College Summit and Bellwether Education Partners. Despite warnings of a degree glut, the college wage premium continues to rise. College-educated workers earned 80 percent more than high school-only workers in 2012.
Schools must do a better job identifying students — especially disadvantaged students — who aren’t reaching their potential, Smart Shoppers argue. ”Schools, colleges, nonprofits, and businesses need to do a better job of educating students about their options on which college they should attend, which degrees they should pursue, and how they should pay for it.”
About a quarter of the gap in college attendance between affluent and working-class students can’t be explained by academic performance, a new study concludes. The Sutton Trust, a British think tank, looked at college-going in the U.S., Britain and Australia.
The Education Department has launched a Financial Aid Toolkit to help counselors explain college aid to students and parents.
“Stopping out” — taking a semester or more off — is very common for Texas community college students, according to a new study, reports USA Today. Ninety-four percent of community college students who first enrolled in 2000 stopped out at least once, Toby Park, a Florida State professor, found.
Of students who completed a degree, 76 percent were one-time stopouts. Taking two or more breaks sharply cut the odds of completion.
Mentoring and personal relationships were what kept Tim Semonich, now a junior at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., enrolled at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem on his second try.
Semonich dropped out his first semester, thinking that college wasn’t for him. After working for two years, he decided to give college a second chance.
“The second time, I put more effort in and made connections with professors and deans,” Semonich says.
The more he got involved with school activities, such as speech team and student government, the more he enjoyed it. Semonich later went on to earn a full scholarship to Moravian.
Taxpayers spent nearly $4 billion from 2004 to 2009 on community college students who dropped out after their first year, reports USA Today.
Celeste Brewer stopped out of the University of Florida and Santa Fe Community College (Florida). ”If I was offered work, then I would skip class because I had to pay my bills,” she says. She got a third chance at Miami Dade College, where she’s close to a degree in aviation administration.
After one year at the University of California, Michelle Willens stopped out. Forty years later, she’s working on a bachelor’s degree. In The Atlantic, she writes about what it’s like to be a middle-aged college student.
Adjuncts don’t hurt — or help — student success at community colleges, concludes a preliminary study. Most research shows adjuncts aren’t as effective, notes Inside Higher Ed. But a study released earlier in the fall found students may learn more from adjuncts, “at least at research universities.”
Hongwei Yu, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Office of Community College Research and Leadership, was lead author of The Effect of Part-time Faculty on Students’ Degree and/or Certificate Completion in Two-Year Community Colleges.
The authors attribute their findings regarding adjuncts and student success to the possibility that community colleges “hire a significant percentage of part-time faculty who come directly from professional fields and have practical experiences, skills, and knowledge [...] which may help students achieve degree or certificate completion in two-year community colleges. In addition, part-time faculty may provide students connections to workplace or a community.”
Researchers found lower completion rates at large community colleges (10,000 or more students) and at rural colleges. High school grades also correlated with completion rates.
Some adjuncts are trying to organize for better treatment, but there’s a large pool of people with advanced degrees and limited job prospects.
The Adjunct Question is the topic for the week at National Journal.
Does Online Learning Help Community College Students Attain a Degree? Yes, in some cases, concludes research by Peter Shea, an associate professor of education at the State University of New York at Albany.
Online community college students in Virginia and Washington state have higher failure and dropout rates, according to earlier studies by the the Community College Research Center.
Shea, who used to run SUNY’s online education system, found the CCRC’s conclusions “counterintuitive,” he told Inside Higher Ed. Online education’s flexibility and convenience should help students advance, he believes.
In contrast to the CCRC studies, the Albany research found that students who had enrolled in at least one online course in their first year did not come into college with better academic preparation than did those who took no courses at a distance.
And students who took online courses at a distance were 1.25 times likelier to earn a credential (certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree) by 2009 than were their peers who had not taken any online courses. Those who started college with a goal of attaining a certificate (rather than a bachelor’s degree) and took online courses were 3.22 times as likely to earn a credential than were students who did not take online courses.
Shea used a nationally representative data set, he points out. Virginia and Washington state could be outliers.
Shanna Jaggars, a co-author of the Community College Research Center studies, said the Albany study may include more adult students. ”For older students who are working full-time and have children, the ability to maintain a full-time load by mixing in one or two online courses per semester may outweigh the negative consequences of performing slightly more poorly in each online course they take.”
Despite President Obama’s call for more college graduates, only 54 percent of students earn a two- or four-year degree in six years, reports the National Student Clearinghouse. The graduation rate is nearly flat, notes the Hechinger Report.
However, community colleges raised the six-year completion rate by 1.1 percentage points to 37.4 percent. That includes the 9 percent who earned a degree after transferring to four-year institutions.
Graduation rates also inched up for students who started at public universities in 2007.
While 76 percent of full-time students earned a degree, only 22 percent of part-timers graduated in six years with another 11 percent still enrolled.
The National Student Clearinghouse’s full report, due in December, will include college students who earned credits in high school through dual enrollment programs.
Success doesn’t always mean a degree or certificate for community college students. “Skill builders” who complete a few vocational courses can raise their earnings by as much as 15 percent, concludes The Missing Piece. The LearningWorks brief is based on a study by Peter Riley Bahr, a University of Michigan associate professor.
California community college students raised their pay by passing one to three courses in water and wastewater technology, criminal justice, electronics, information technology or manufacturing, the study found.
One in seven first-time California community college students enroll in six or fewer credits per semester. Most do well in their courses, but they don’t earn a credential or transfer. These students are considered failures. But some are skill builders who have other goals, such as earning an industry certification or state license, moving to full-time work and raising their pay.
As more states seek to link funding to student outcomes, colleges need ways to evaluate skill builders’ gains, Bahr concludes. Success can’t be measured solely by certificates and degrees.
California Latinos are completing high school and enrolling in college in record numbers, but college graduation rates remain low, according to a new report, The State of Latinos in Higher Education in California.
Expectations are high: 83 percent of Latino parents want their children to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. But only 11 percent of Latino adults have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 39 percent of whites.
Latinos are expected to reach majority status in California by 2050, notes the Campaign for College Opportunity, which produced the report. “The math is clear,” said Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign. “If the California economy is to have the college-educated workforce it needs, we must find ways to significantly improve college completion rates among Latinos.”
“The good news is that this report confirms the incredible willingness and desire among Latino youth to go to college,” said Siqueiros. “Enrollment is high and growing. But too few Latino college students are completing a certificate or college degree. We are falling into a pattern of improved college access, without success.”
Compared to their white and Asian-American classmates, Latinos are less likely to enroll in a selective college or four-year university. They’re also less likely to enroll full-time and much less likely to earn a credential.
Seventy percent of first-time Latino college-goers in the state enrolled at a community college in 2012. Of degree-seeking Latinos who complete six units and attempt an English or math course, 40 percent earn a certificate or associate degree or transfer within six years, estimates a scorecard created by the California Community Colleges. That includes nearly 65 percent of “prepared” Latinos and 35 percent of “unprepared” Latinos. However, only 20 percent Latinos earned a credential or transferred, according to the Campaign’s 2010 study. Researchers looked at students who’d earned six units, regardless of math or English attempts.
To close the college gap, the Campaign for College Opportunity recommends creating a statewide higher education plan with benchmarks for increasing Latino enrollment and completion rates, and for decreasing time spent in remedial education. “We’ve looked at Texas, which is very aggressive at articulating goals, college by college,” said Siqueiros in an online press conference.
Fund colleges for both enrollment and success — Establish a new funding mechanism that creates incentives for increasing graduation and completion rates.
Get everyone on the same page — Improve coordination between high schools and colleges on college preparation and assessment.
Invest in services students need to succeed — Prioritize resources that support student success and completion, including orientation, counseling and services to close information gaps for low-income, first-generation Latino students.
Strengthen financial support options for students — Ensure that all eligible students apply and receive federal and California student aid for which they qualify.
“Access is not enough,” said Siqueiros.
Redesigning remedial math can improve community college completion rates, concludes Changing Equations. Pamela Burdman wrote the report for LearningWorks, an Oakland-based nonprofit. Some community colleges are stressing statistics and quantitative reasoning over intermediate algebra for non-STEM students.
Early results – including a dramatic jump from 6 to 51 percent in the proportion of students completing college-level math in their first year of college — are lending credence to the theory that the alternative pathways are better tailored to academic majors that don’t require intermediate algebra. About a quarter of California’s 112 community colleges, as well as numerous colleges in at least a dozen other states, have begun to develop these alternatives for non-STEM (science, technology, engineer, and math) students.
Intermediate algebra is a major barrier to graduation, the report finds. Most entering community college students place into remedial math. Eighty percent fail to complete the sequence and pass college-level math.
Half of Blacks and Latinos start community college with very weak math skills. Only 6 percent of students who place into the lowest remedial math level will pass a college-level math course within three years.
“We need to think hard about how remedial math sequences can best serve students who don’t want to become scientists or engineers,” says Linda Collins, executive director of LearningWorks.
California is accelerating remediation in math and English, but transfer policies are getting the way, reports Paul Fain on Inside Higher Ed.
A faculty-led group called the California Acceleration Project has helped 42 of the state’s community colleges offer redesigned, faster versions of remedial math and English tracks. But the group’s co-founders said they would be able to make much more progress if the University of California changed its transfer credit requirements.
Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College, created Path2Stats to move remedial students quickly to college-level statistics. Her students “were more than four times as likely to complete college-level math as their peers in traditional remedial sequences,” writes Fain.
Currently 21 community colleges offer similar math courses.
But UC requires transfers to take intermediate algebra. Accelerated math doesn’t include enough algebra, according to UC.
An online tool helps students track their progress to a degree and view educational options at Mt. San Antonio College, reports the Campaign for College Opportunity. The Mountie Academic Plan (MAP), which launched in February, helps compensate for limited counseling staff at the large southern California community college.
Students and counselors create an education plan. MAP tracks students’ progress toward their goal. Students also can look at “what-if” scenarios: What if I tried a different certificate or degree program? They can view their progress toward a variety of transfer options.
MAP offers many advantages, according to the Campaign.
The online tracking system increases counselor effectiveness during the 30-minute sessions. Counselors spend time conducting more in-depth counseling and guidance instead of determining course history and requirements . . .
. . . Prior to the launch of MAP, educational plans were completed by hand and a photocopy was kept in the student file with the original given to the student. Paper copies were often lost or destroyed and there was no easy way to update this critical document. The new online tool allows students or counselors access to the document 24/7. Furthermore, counselors can easily view educational plans that were developed with previous counselors.
The community college is using MAP data to plan future course offerings. Preventing bottlenecks should enable students to move quickly to a certificate or degree.
Students with education plans will qualify for priority enrollment, under new California regulations. That should help them register for essential courses, saving time and money.
Statewide student success centers are trying to boost community college completion rates in five states, writes Paul Fain on Inside Higher Ed.
Caroline Altman Smith, a senior program officer for Kresge, said the goal is to knit together viable completion strategies in a central place in each state. The new hubs become places for both administrators and faculty members to share intelligence and bring ideas back to their campuses.
. . . A recently released policy paper from Jobs for the Future tracks the genesis of the centers. The first step came when a “critical mass” of community colleges signed on to the completion-oriented reforms led by Achieving the Dream, a national organization, according to the paper.
“The colleges and their supporting associations came to believe that their hard work could be strengthened and amplified if there were some statewide, cross-college supports in place,” the paper said, including common data sets and professional development opportunities.
The centers are located in states with relatively decentralized community college systems.
The Ohio center got off the ground last year. Ruth Silon, who taught English at Cuyahoga Community College for 34 years, is its director. “You have 23 separate cultures” at Ohio’s 23 community colleges, Silon said. The center is trying to help create a “state culture” around college completion.
California community college leaders are considering applying for a grant to create a student success center to coordinate completion campaigns in the state, which has 112 community colleges.