CC transfers serve poor as doctors

Community college transfers who become medical students are more likely to plan to work in low-income, minority communities.

Medical schools could improve care for underserved patients by admitting more students who started in community college, say researchers from UCLA, UC San Francisco and San Jose City College.  Medical students who previously attended community colleges are more likely to intend working in low-income, minority communities, according to the recent study published in Academic Medicine.

Thirty-four percent of Latino medical students in the study had attended community colleges, (538 of 1,566 matriculants), compared with 28 percent of black students (311 of 1,109), 27 percent of white students (2,715 of 9,905), 27 percent of Asian students (963 of 3,628) and 30 percent of students identifying themselves as mixed-race or other race (393 of 1,310).

Medical schools discriminate against applicants who start at community college, the study found.  Applicants who’d started at community college  were 30 percent less likely to be admitted, after adjusting for age, gender, race and ethnicity, parental education, grade point average and MCAT score.

California: Building transfer bridges

San Franciscans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.

One way to restrain college costs and expand diversity is to build a sturdier bridge between community colleges and elite universities, writes Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic.

The University of California is trying to do that, he writes. Last month, a task force urged the nine-campus system to “streamline and strengthen” the transfer process.

Overall, the report noted, 29 percent of the system’s entering students in 2012-13 arrived as community-college transfers.

. . . Just over half of the admitted transfer students, the study found, were first-generation students, slightly above the proportion in the freshman class. Perhaps most impressively, the study found that 86 percent of transfers graduated within four years after arriving, almost exactly equal to the 84 percent of freshman students who finish after six years.

However, transfers come disproportionately from seven community colleges in affluent areas such as Santa Monica, Cupertino, Pasadena, Santa Barbara, and San Diego.

 Although African-Americans and Hispanic students make up nearly 46 percent of the state’s huge community-college student body, they represented only about 25 percent of those who transferred into UC. That was actually less than their share of the entering freshmen class for the UC system.

To encourage more demographic and geographic diversity, the report recommended that UC build partnerships with the community colleges that send few students into the transfer pipeline; increase its visibility on every two-year campus; broaden its own direct outreach to community-college students; expand the transition services it provides to transfer students; and, perhaps most important, establish more consistency in the course requirements that each UC campus sets for admission.

UC still lets each campus set its own transfer requirements, making it hard for students to navigate the system, said Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign for College Opportunity.  The less selective California State system unified requirements under a 2010 state law. “The UC system should be able to align their requirements for the different majors within the system, and that would allow students to prepare.”

Fifteen California community colleges would be allowed to one bachelor’s degree each in an area of “critical workforce demand” under a bill that has passed the state Senate.

UC plans to streamline transfers

Santa Monica College is the top transfer college in California.

Streamlining transfers will expand opportunity and improve diversity at the elite University of California system, concludes a new UC report, Preparing California For Its Future.  In addition to improving counseling and the transfer experience, the report calls for creating and aligning  systemwide pre-major pathways with corresponding Associate Degrees for Transfer and adopting common course numbering, “where appropriate.”

Associate Degrees for Transfer create a “single clear degree pathway,” said the Campaign for College Opportunity. The California Community Colleges (CCC) and the second-tier California State University system have laid the groundwork.

(UC) must eliminate the confusion and complication experienced by students hoping to transfer by getting rid of the varying requirements from campus to campus, even for similar majors. Simplifying transfer makes each of the other challenges raised in this report easier to address including outreach, counseling, guidance, and use of technology.

Unfortunately, many of the recommendations to streamline transfer end with “where possible” and “where appropriate.”

The report also calls for seeking transfers from a wider array of community colleges, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Santa Monica College and Los Angeles Southwest College are only 13 miles apart but have an immense gap when it comes to transferring students to a University of California campus, a new report says. Santa Monica sent 783 students last year, by far the most of 112 community colleges in the state, while Southwest sent just four, among the lowest.

. . .  just 19 colleges sent half of all the 13,999 community college transfers to UC campuses last year and 93 other schools made up the other half, the UC study said.

Improving the transfer pipeline is a priority, said UC President Janet Napolitano. Transfer students, she said, “are an important part of UC’s strength as an engine of social mobility for our state,” she said. “Put simply, if we are serving transfers well, then we are serving the state well.”

CC transfers can succeed at selective schools

Community college achievers from low- to  moderate- income backgrounds can succeed at highly selective four-year institutions, according to Partnerships that Promote Success. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Community College Transfer Initiative (CCTI) was evaluated by Brandeis researchers.

With the foundation’s support, eight elite colleges worked with community colleges to improve student preparation, financial aid, orientation and “bridge” programs and post-admission support.

CCTI students collectively earned a 3.0 GPA, passed 95 percent of their classes and persevered to graduation, the evaluation found. They also became campus leaders and formed campus organizations.

Transfer students raised their aspirations: 79 percent planned to attend graduate or professional school. “I had never dared dream this big,” said one CCTI student. Another said, “It has expanded the things I thought I could do. I see that doors are not locked.”

Community colleges improved their advising and developed “more rigorous curricular and honors programs.”

At four-year institutions, the CCTI  increased student diversity “in terms of life experiences, income and maturity.”

Selective colleges seek diverse transfers

Selective colleges and universities are pursuing community college achievers who can provide racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Sichen Hernandez-Martinez is the type of undergraduate who is increasingly in demand at four-year colleges: She had been a community college honors student, a member of campus government and was active in school clubs.

After three years at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, she was admitted to USC, UC Riverside and Cal State San Bernardino. She accepted a scholarship to Pomona College, a selective, private school in Claremont, which she entered as a junior this year.

. . . “Our college is always interested in enrolling a diverse population of students that includes race and ethnicity but also socioeconomic background,” said Joel Hart, Pomona’s senior assistant dean of admissions. “Some students don’t have the same advantages as that of a significant portion of our campus, but they have overcome that and those experiences make them compelling applicants.”

Thirty-six percent of community college students are the first in their families to attend college, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. In California, Latinos, Asians, blacks and other underrepresented minorities made up more than 60 percent of students enrolled in the state’s 112 community colleges, reports the Times.

“Community college students are becoming a very respected commodity and that’s a shift from what we’ve seen in the past,” said Janet Marling, director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students at the University of North Georgia. “Not just four-year institutions, but competitive universities are seeing community colleges as a great source of students who can bring diversity.”

Whittier College, a private, liberal arts campus near Los Angeles recruits about 15 percent of its students from such two-year schools as Pasadena City College, Mount San Antonio College in Walnut and Whittier’s Rio Hondo College. Starting in 2015, Whittier will help prepare about 300 two-year graduates annually to transfer to elite universities across the country.

College diversity event excludes whites

A “diversity happy hour” was canceled at a Washington state community college, when the emailed invitation said white people were not welcome, reports the Washington Times.

“Staff, Faculty and Administrators of Color” at South Puget Sound Community College invited all college employees, except for whites.

“If you want to create space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege to better our campus community and yourselves, please feel free to do just that,” the email read.

Diversity & Equity Center program coordinator Karama Blackhorn, who helped write the invitation, said  non-white staffers would have a more honest discussion about race without their white colleagues. Blackhorn also told the local radio station that the center “is not for white people. That space is for people of color.”

The center’s web page says it’s “a safe, hate-free space for ALL students. . . a place where we can connect with our own communities while learning from other communities.” A director, assistant director and program coordinator (apparently Blackhorn’s predecessor) are listed. The programs page tells students they can apply in fall 2012 for the spring 2013 Students of Color Conference.

The college canceled the event and apologized. If rescheduled, the event “will of course be open to anyone who wants to come,” the college promised.

CCs recruit diverse students to teaching

Community college can be the first step to a teaching career. The National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs (NACCTEP) is working to diversify the teacher workforce, reports Community College Week.

Leeward Community College in Oahu is trying to encourage Native Hawaiian and Filipino students to earn an AA in teaching. Half of public school students — but only 15 percent of teachers — come from these ethnicities.

Leeward’s AAT program reaches out to high school students and to teacher aides. Students complete an academic plan. Peer mentors — current or former AAT students — provide counseling and tutoring. That’s raised completion rates to 80 percent.

At Santa Ana College in California, would-be teachers can turn to the Center for Teacher Education (CFTE) for help. Seventy-nine percent are Latino and a majority of first-generation college students, says Steve Bautista, a coordinator and counselor. 

For most of our low-income students, the cost of books is one of the biggest barriers to attending college. One of the most successful and popular services and strategies for retention has been the Center’s Textbook Loan Program. Students who want to participate are required to register with the center, attend an information session on the pathway to teaching, and develop an educational plan with a counselor. In return, the students have the opportunity to borrow textbooks . . . 

Once CFTE identifies students who want to be teachers, counselors can explain pathways to teaching, connect students to support services and help them “develop an educational plan that will lead to graduation and transfer,” writes Bautista. Retention rates are high.

California: Time for a new higher ed plan?

Leaders of California’s three state higher education systems met this week with Gov. Jerry Brown to pledge cooperation, especially in helping community college students transfer to state universities, reports the Los Angeles Times.

In a rare gathering, University of California President Janet Napolitano, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White and California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris said they want to break through some of the walls set up by the state’s 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, which established different roles and student enrollment criteria for each sector. Yet they also said they want to maintain the plan’s basic tenets.

“Transfer should be as streamlined as possible and as transparent as possible,” said Napolitano, as the three leaders appeared together at the UC regents meeting in San Francisco.

The challenge for the three systems, White said, is to strengthen the master plan “for the new economy for the next 50 years.”

The master plan, among other things, gave UC control over doctoral degrees and professional schools, allowed open access to community colleges and set higher admissions standards at Cal State and UC. Although many educators speak of it reverently, Brown described it as the result of a political deal in need of updating.

Napolitano pledged at the White House summit to improve diversity at the University of California by admitting more transfers from community colleges that “enroll large numbers of underrepresented and low-income students but send relatively few on to UC.”

Currently, only 20 percent of transfers are Latino or black compared to 24 percent of first-year students, points out Robert Shireman, director of California Competes. Latinos and African Americans make up 42 of the state’s population. CSU campuses are developing transfer pathways with the community colleges. UC has not participated.

California needs a new higher education plan and a statewide coordinating agency, concludes California Competes in Charting a Course for California’s Colleges. The California Postsecondary Education Commission was defunded in 2011. Since then, the state has no system of coordinated higher education leadership.

“For California’s continued economic growth, we must graduate 5.5 million degree and technical certificate holders who can succeed in the high-skilled labor market by 2025,” said Shireman. The state will fall short by 2.3 million, including one million four-year college graduates, without “consistent and coordinated leadership for our colleges and universities.”
Charting a Course
The report recommends creating an autonomous coordinating agency “independent from political influence, informed by data, focused on outcomes and effective in articulating its goals, and able to work with policymakers.”

“We can’t just transplant” a higher education governance model from another state, said Lande Ajose, author of the report and a deputy director of California Competes. But California could learn from Ohio, Washington, Illinois, Texas, Florida and other states, the report suggests.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown called for the University of California and California State University systems to begin reporting performance outcomes, but it wasn’t clear who would collect and analyze the data, notes California Competes. The governor signed a bill calling for the state to develop postsecondary education goals, “but there was no guidance on who would monitor progress toward those goals.”

Speaker John A. Pérez, who serves as a UC Regent and a CSU Trustee, has introduced a bill establishing a new state oversight and coordinating body for higher education. AB 1348 passed the Assembly last year and will be considered by the Senate this year.

California’s higher education system is just average, concludes the Campaign for College Opportunity in Average Won’t Do.
Tuition (known as fees) at community colleges and state universities is relatively low: Community college fees are only 42 percent of the national average and many students pay nothing. Student loan debt averages a relatively low $20,269 per borrower. But fees and student loan amounts are rising rapidly.

California is below average on college readiness, according to the report. Only 68 percent of high school students earn a diploma in four years. Thirty-eight percent have passed college-prep courses that qualify them for state universities.

The college-going rate is relatively high, but the completion rate is average at state universities and well below average for community colleges.

Should community colleges recruit the rich?

Community colleges aren’t segregated by race or income, argues Jamal Abdul-Alim in Diverse.

“Community colleges are inadequately funded and they’re increasingly segregated by race and class,” said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation in announcing a new report, Bridging the Higher Education Divide. To increase diversity, community colleges should recruit middle-class and affluent students, recommends  the report by the Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal.

However, two of the report’s charts show community colleges enroll a range of students, Abdul-Alim writes.

One chart shows that the lowest two income quartiles—those who earn less than $36,149 and those who earn between that amount and $66,620, respectively—each comprise 31 percent of public two-year college students, while those in the upper quartiles comprise 23 and 15 percent, respectively.

Whites are slightly underrepresented at community colleges, where they make up 57 percent of the students but 61 percent of the overall population. Hispanics, on the other hand, are overrepresented, making up 18 percent of two-year college students but 13 percent of the overall population. All other groups, including Blacks, have community college populations that are roughly proportional to their percentage of the overall population.

Honors programs would attract more affluent and high-achieving students, the report suggests. However, “the challenge is to offer programs that simultaneously will be highly attractive to students who might not otherwise consider community college and yet at the same time avoid becoming tracking devices that segregate students within community colleges.”

Many community colleges are putting students on wait lists already, responds Daniel Luzer in Washington Monthly’s College Guide. If community colleges recruit more rich kids, where do the poor students go?  “Oh right, they go to for-profit colleges.”

AACC names 25 finalists for excellence awards

Twenty-five community colleges have been named finalists for the Awards of Excellence sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges. Awards will be given in five categories: Emerging Leadership, Student Success, Exemplary CEO or Board, Advancing Diversity and Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership.

The finalists and winners will be honored April 23 during the closing brunch of the 2013 AACC Convention in San Francisco.