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.
Ivy Tech, Indiana’s rapidly growing statewide community college system, is considered “a national model for statewide efficiency and received praise for close ties to employers,” reports Inside Higher Ed. But Ivy Tech faces a $68 million funding gap and may have to close up to 20 of its 76 campuses.
“We’ve done all the painless things we can do,” said Thomas J. Snyder, Ivy Tech’s president. A former corporate executive, “he has helped lead substantial cost-saving efforts” and joined national discussions on college costs and productivity.
Ivy Tech’s requested level of state support has long been $3,500 per student (the total cost of education per student is $4,665). Yet the state’s current contribution is $2,543, which is up from a $2,198 the previous year. Even before the recession, state funding did not reach Ivy Tech’s target levels.
In addition, the college receives little money from the state for its facilities. The system built or expanded 17 campuses without state support. And only 23 campuses receive capital funding, Snyder said.
Ivy Tech claims it’s achieved $100 million in savings through shared services and outsourcing. The college system also has frozen salaries and eliminated one chancellor position. However, college officials say $70 million in deferred spending can’t be postponed forever. And it needs to hire faculty members and advisors.
Ivy Tech plans to raise tuition by $5 per credit hour, but the board of trustees also is considering closing campuses.
Community colleges awarded more than 1 million associate degrees in 2011-12, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year, reports Community College Week, which lists the top 100 associate degree and certificate producers.
Completion campaigns are starting to pay off. Indiana’s Ivy Tech, a statewide system, ranks first among two-year institutions and third overall in associate degrees awarded with a 12 percent increase. Completion is “now a priority for all community colleges,” said President Thomas J. Snyder. But Ivy Tech is underfunded, he complained.
The situation only worsened when students poured into the system after the 2008 recession.
“The facilities themselves are woefully under built,” Snyder said. “Our student to adviser ratio is 1000-1. Most colleges try to get to 500-1.”
Snyder said while 47 percent of all students enrolled in public colleges in Indiana attend Ivy Tech, the state gets just 14 percent of the higher education appropriations.
The Lone Star College System in Texas ranked third among two-year institutions, and 10th overall, in the number of associate degrees conferred, with 4,208, a 27 percent increase from a year earlier. The number of degrees earned by Hispanic students increased by 55 percent from the year before.
“Our board has made student success its top priority,” said Chancellor Richard Carpenter. “For the past three or four years, not a meeting goes by where we don’t talk about completion.”
Lone Star leads the statewide Texas Completes program, which aims to “identify, address and eliminate obstacles to student success and implement procedures and policies to speed a student’s completion.” For example, all new students must attend a common orientation and declare a program of study in their first year.
Four-year college students are using online community college courses to finish their degrees, according to U.S. News.
In 2005, Stanley Hicks enrolled at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis to study electrical engineering while keeping his day job. After eight years, he’s finishing his four-year degree though online courses at Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College. ”At IUPUI some classes, with fees, are 1,200 bucks,” says Hicks. “At Ivy Tech, the same class is $400.”
Online courses make it easier to juggle work and school, he says.
Hicks, who will end up taking six courses at Ivy Tech before he graduates, says his classes at the two institutions were more or less the same in terms of quality. For financially stressed students, he says taking online community college courses is a great option.
“There seems to be no ‘hidden’ fees at Ivy Tech,” says Hicks. “I also like the smaller class sizes and you seem to get better one-on-one assistance from the professors if needed.”
The number of four-year students taking online courses doubled in the last year at Ivy Tech.
Arizona’s Glendale Community College also is seeing more online students pursuing bachelor’s degrees, says Tressa Jumps, the school’s director of marketing.
Jumps says many of the guest students at Glendale are taking courses covering subjects they have struggled with in the past or are taking a challenging course over the summer so they can devote more time to it. Taking an online community college course gives them the chance to be in a smaller class, and in the case of Glendale, benefit from free tutoring, she says.
However, students need to make sure that credits earned online through community colleges will be accepted by their four-year institution.
A dozen Fortune 500 companies are teaching business skills to their workers, writes Christopher Connell in the Hechinger Report. Often employees can earn college credits as well as promotions, starting them on the path to a degree.
Mark Allen, a Pepperdine University business professor and author of “The Next Generation of Corporate Universities,” likens it to the kind of efficient, just-in-time logistics that keep costly inventories low until they’re needed. It’s also a reflection of companies’ impatience with the pace at which conventional higher education adapts to workplace needs.
“What companies like is just-in-time learning that gives somebody a skill they need at the time they need it,” Allen says. “What traditional universities do to a large extent is just-in-case learning.”
Starbucks workers earn credits from City University of Seattle for “Barista Basics” and “Barista 101” and higher-level management courses.
Jiffy Lube University teaches the company’s standards and culture to franchisees. The University of Farmers also imparts corporate values and culture to Farmers Insurance Company’s agents.
McDonald’s sends 5,000 managers and prospective managers each year to the chain’s Hamburger University for a week of business training.
“Selling hamburgers is what we do. But it’s the business philosophy and leadership that creates success,” says Shelly Hicks, who first came through Hamburger University’s doors when she was a restaurant manager in Nashville and now is one of the 16 “professors” at Oak Brook (Illinois).
McDonald’s store managers can earn up to 23 credits toward associate’s or bachelor’s degrees for the courses they take at Hamburger U, and higher-ups can earn as many as 27 credits; Hicks used hers toward a business degree and went on to get a master’s degree in adult education that helps her in her training role.
Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College counts 18 McDonald’s training credits toward associate’s degrees. Some Hamburger U students get their transcripts approved by the American Council on Education so they can use the credits toward degrees at accredited universities.
Spring break is a time for community service for a growing number of college students, reports the Indianapolis Star. Even community college students are getting into the act.
During a trip last year to Guatemala to build a daycare, Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington students visited families living in one-room shacks with mud floors and no running water. Malnourished children didn’t have shoes and drank from the same river they used as a toilet, remembered Chelsea Rood-Emmick, the campus’s executive director of civic engagement.
When the group left the families, a student broke down into tears.
“You have students who knew that this would be poverty but didn’t realize how real it was going to be,” Rood-Emmick said.
Ivy Tech will return to Guatemala this year to help local farmers build a middle school.
More remedial students are passing college-level math since Indiana’s Ivy Tech went to the “concurrent” model: Students enroll in a remedial math lab or workshop and a college-level math class. In one workshop, students stack wooden blocks to visualize math concepts, reports the Star Press.
MUNCIE — Paul Jones, a 39-year-old gas station clerk, stacked square, wooden alphabet blocks in his remedial math class at Ivy Tech Community College on Thursday afternoon.
. . . The vast majority of students entering Ivy Tech are adults who hold a job. And 70 percent of them test into one of the remedial math classes, such as “Math 080, Mathematic Principles with Algebra,” a non-credit course.
“Anything to bring them down off the edge,” associate professor Rob Jeffs said of his props, which also include soup cans. . . . “The problem is when you get into the abstract. We are starting out at an intuitive level and trying to build on it. If I’d have put ‘y = mx + b’ on the board, I’d have lost half of them to start with.”
Both math classes use the same textbook, so students save money as well as time.
Ronald Sloan, vice chancellor for academic affairs for Ivy Tech’s East Central Region, calls the concurrent model “the first little light I’ve seen since I’ve been in this business (more than 30 years).”
Ivy Tech launched the new model, which it borrowed from Austin Peay State University and from the Community College of Baltimore County, last semester. The model is also being used by Ivy Tech for remedial English students.
In the past, about half of remedial math students would pass. Some wouldn’t sign up for Math 118, the entry-level for-credit class. Of those who did, only half passed. That meant only 15 to 20 percent of remedial math students made it through college-level math. “Now, it’s almost 60 percent,” said Sloan. “That’s big.”
In the old model, students would forget math skills from one semester to the next, Sloan said.
In the concurrent model, students in the remedial class take the 118 course together, so they know each other and can help each other. Or they can turn for help to non-remedial students in the course.
Community colleges are known for low tuition — and low prestige. A new company called Quad Learning is teaming with community colleges to offer an online honors curriculum, reports Inside Higher Ed. Investors hope students will pay more for an honors degree.
Students enrolled in the program — which is delivered in an online, synchronous format, but with extracurricular and other face time — pay more than they would to enroll in the traditional academic programs at their institutions, but significantly less than they would at most public and private four-year alternatives.
Next year, students will compete for 160 slots in Spokane’s program, paying $5,985 for the year, compared to the normal $3,921 tuition for in-state students.
Colleges will use the extra tuition to pay Quad Learning for its technology and coaching services.
For those extra dollars, students have much smaller classes, significantly more interaction with academic coaches from their colleges and from American Honors, and much more help in college guidance to help them prepare to transfer once they’re done, said Lisa Avery, dean of American Honors and global education at Community Colleges of Spokane.
Community college instructors in the American Honors network will collaborate on curriculum development and set common learning outcomes. However, each college will be able to adapt learning materials and assign its own faculty members to teach the honors courses. Honors graduates will find it easier to transfer to top universities, predicts Quad Learning.
When a college athlete fails or drops a class, there’s a quick, easy, low-cost way to stay eligible, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education in Need 3 Quick Credits to Play Ball? Call Western Oklahoma. The community college offers two-week, three-credit online courses for $387 and “mails out transcripts the day after classes end, allowing players to get back on the field with minimal disruption.”
Nearly half of students in the quickie classes play college sports, the college estimates.
Lately, Western Oklahoma credits have appeared on the transcripts of one of the most highly recruited quarterbacks in the country, basketball players from numerous NCAA tournament teams, and athletes in at least 11 NCAA Division I conferences.
It’s not just the speedy credit that appeals to many players. According to dozens of academic advisers, athletes, and coaches, Western Oklahoma offers some of the easiest classes around. One Division I football player who reads at a fifth-grade level completed a three-credit health class in three sittings, his academic counselor says. Other students struggling to stay above a 2.0 on their own campus have landed A’s and B’s from Western Oklahoma—all in the academic blink of an eye.
Eric C. Liles Jr., a senior linebacker at Dakota State University, “aced” sociology by looking at videos and slides. He never bought the textbook. “In other classes, students who don’t pass an exam the first time are allowed to try again. And none of the exams in the two-week format are monitored.”
In one course, an instructor taught students to use Microsoft Excel by asking them to enter a number on a spreadsheet. Students also learned to create a slide in PowerPoint.
Nutrition is a popular course for athletes. One assignment asks students to “briefly explain why Americans are so obese, and why they themselves do or don’t take vitamins.”
Western Oklahoma State collects more than $2 million a year from online courses.
More than a dozen online programs help athletes meet NCAA eligibility rules, reports the Chronicle.
Ivy Tech Community College, in Indiana, offers 350 online courses to more than 32,000 online students. Brandon Walker, a junior at Franklin College of Indiana, took “E-School” geometry to qualify for freshman football.
”You really didn’t have to read any information or understand what you were doing. You could just keep clicking to the end and take the quiz. Then, if you didn’t get a 75, they would refresh it for you… and make you retake it. Before you retook the quiz, they would give you the answers to every question you missed. Then they would automatically restart the exam, with the same questions and same exact answers. If I got a 60 on some, which I did, it would never show up. Only the ones above 75 got submitted.
“I couldn’t believe it—all the answers were already there for me.”
A few “developmental” online classes provided answers to quiz questions “as a teaching tool,” Ivy Tech officials told the Chronicle. Those courses are no longer offered.
“How to Achieve the American Dream Without a Mountain of Debt” is the subtitle of Thomas J. Snyder’s The Community College Career Track, a guide for high school students and their parents, career changes and displaced workers.
Snyder, president of Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College system and a former CEO, tells prospective students why they should consider a low-cost community college, how to get scholarships, grants and aid and the pros and cons of online courses. He explains how to prepare for college work, ace the placement test and chart a path to a “great” career by earning a one-year professional certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree.
“Everyone should consider a science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), or health care related career,” Snyder writes. Learn math, then do the math: High-tech manufacturing, biotechnology, health care, information technology and energy are growing fields that pay a premium for technical skills.
Snyder also has advice for students who want to use community college as a “smart start” to a bachelor’s degree.
Also new is First in the World: Community Colleges and America’s Future by J. Noah Brown, president and CEO of the American Association of Community College Trustees. Despite increasing visibility in recent years, community colleges remain “woefully underfunded and undervalued,” writes Brown.
Investing in community colleges has been a big part of American prosperity since the end of World War II. Regaining our position of global leadership by increasing educational attainment rates is the way out of our current economic malaise.
Increasingly, community college students drop in and out and back in again, confusing measures of success or accountability schemes, he writes. College leaders must find ways to benchmark student progress to show how well colleges are meeting their multiple academic and vocational goals.