Indiana: 28% earn credential in 6 years

IndianaCompletion rates are low at Indiana’s public two-year colleges, reports the state Commission for Higher Education. The six-year completion rate for students seeking certificates or degrees is 28.2 percent. That includes transfers and students who earned a lower-level credential than originally sought.

Two-year public colleges spend an average of $31,369 for each degree produced, half the per-degree cost of four-year colleges and universities.

At Ivy Tech, the state community college system, the cost per degree is $30,120. Ivy Tech’s six-year completion rate — any credential at any campus — is 27.7 percent for full-time students and 20.8 percent for part-timers.

Only 15.7 percent of blacks who start at Ivy Tech have earned a credential within six years, compared to 26.8 percent of Hispanics, 29.6 percent of whites and 35.7 percent of Asians.

At Indiana’s four-year colleges and universities, the six-year completion rate is 68.6 percent. That includes any degree at any campus.

Tu Futuro helps Latinos set goals

Tu Futuro, which means “your future,” is encouraging Latino students in Indianapolis to aim high, reports the Indianapolis Star.

Paola Padilla didn’t think (college) … was possible for someone like her.

For one, she is an undocumented immigrant. Also, no one in her family has a college degree.

But after graduating from Southport High School earlier this year, the 19-year-old is taking community college classes and hopes to later transfer to a university. She wants to pursue a career in accounting or in the medical field.

Tu Futuro, developed by La Plaza Inc., visits more than 20 high schools to discuss career goals, scholarship opportunities and how to pursue a college education. Tabitha Truax, a program coordinator, helped Padilla apply for scholarships and tour the University of Indianapolis. Truax helped her “get motivated,” she says.

Padilla qualified for a work permit through Deferred Action, a new federal program.

Born in Mexico, Padilla moved with her family to Indiana when she was 7. Her mother and two older siblings didn’t finish high school. Her father studied briefly to become an electrician.

Now, she juggles full-time school work with a 20- to 30-hour-a-week job at McDonald’s while also going through a nursing assistant program at RESQ, a medical training organization in Indianapolis.

. . . With the help of Tu Futuro, Padilla received a couple of scholarships that helped pay for her first semester at Ivy Tech Community College. But because she is not an Indiana resident, she pays out-of-state fees. Padilla said that amounts to $4,000 a semester.

Already struggling to pay for Ivy Tech, Padilla hopes to transfer to Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, which costs $12,000 semester. “I want to be someone in life.”

$27 an hour to start

“Stackable” short-term vocational certificates can help young people find good jobs, then go back to college for even better jobs, reports Community College Daily.

Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) in Pennsylvania is working closely with industry partners. “Instead of coming out of college with $50,000 in debt, the goal should be to come out with a $50,000 income,” says Doug Jensen, WCCC associate vice president for workforce education and economic development.

With ArcelorMittal, local high schools and Career and Technical Centers (CTCs) of Pennsylvania, WCCC participates in Steelworker for the Future. The program includes college courses and a paid professional internship.

“When students walk across the stage on graduation day, they get their high school diploma, they get their CTC credentials and they get a certificate from WCCC in applied industrial technology,” says Jensen. High school graduates with Steelworker for the Future credentials can start at up to $27 an hour and make close to $80,000 a year with overtime and bonuses.

Other community colleges participating in Steelworker for the Future include Ivy Tech in Indiana, Moraine Valley Community College and Prairie State College in Illinois, West Virginia Northern Community College and Cuyahoga Community College and Lakeland Community College in Ohio.

Colleges join ‘honors’ transfer network

Quad Learning‘s American Honors is creating a national transfer network to help high-achieving community college students earn bachelor’s degrees at selective colleges and universities, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Twenty-seven colleges and universities, including Amherst, Swarthmore Colleges, Purdue and UCLA, have agreed to recruit and enroll honors college transfers. Last week, New Jersey’s Mercer County Community College and Union County College joined Community Colleges of Spokane and Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College in starting American Honors programs.

The American Honors vision is to wrap a rigorous academic honors program developed and delivered by the host community colleges themselves within a bundle of American Honors-provided advising and other services that exceed what financially strapped two-year institutions usually manage themselves. (For instance, the programs have one academic adviser for every 100 or so students, compared to a ratio of about 1,000-to-1 normally.)

Quad Learning, a for-profit company, doesn’t develop the curriculum and has no plans to seek accreditation for American Honors, said president Chris Romer.

The curriculum is delivered in a blended format, with both on-ground and synchronously delivered online courses; academic and other advising is delivered both online and in person, and mandatory “transfer coaching” is done face-to-face.

Spokane’s first graduates have been accepted at institutions such as the University of Washington, Cornell, Stanford and Vanderbilt.  The program, which has tripled its enrollment, is drawing students who wouldn’t have considered community college without an honors option, said Lisa Avery, vice provost for strategic partnerships at Spokane.

Ivy Tech also is expanding American Honors to more campuses.

“From what we’ve seen, these American Honors students are going to be really good students who are well prepared and can persist and graduate,” said Kasey Urquidez, associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at the University of Arizona, which is joining the program.

State universities often have agreements with community colleges in their own states to automatically admit transfer students who meet certain academic standards, and to accept certain credits. But those deals generally do not cross state lines or apply to private colleges, which organizers say makes the new alliance the first of its kind.

A handful of universities in the group will offer automatic admission to some American Honors graduates, though the criteria for that, like grade point average, will vary by institution. None have pledged to accept all of the students’ community college credits, but administrators say they have committed to accepting as many as possible.

Some community colleges already have honors programs. Miami Dade College‘s program was a model for American Honors.

American Honors students pay more than the normal community college tuition but considerably less than they’d pay at a four-year institution.

CC nursing programs fight ‘degree creep’

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 may close campuses

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’s strategic plan calls for increasing the number of adults with college credentials. Indiana ranked 40th in degree attainment according to the Lumina Foundation.

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.

Associate degrees pass 1 million mark

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.

CC online courses help 4-year students

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.

Companies provide ‘just-in-time’ education

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.

Breaking for service

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.