California community colleges could add courses in short summer and winter sessions — if students pay more, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. A bill that passed the Assembly this week would let colleges charge non-resident rates — $200 per unit — for new classes instead of the usual fee of $46 per unit.
Students who pay more for a high-demand class would free up spaces for other students during the regular semester, Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, said. ”We must recognize the reality that the existing system is not meeting students’ needs,” he said.
The Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and several community college districts opposed the bill, saying it’s unfair to low-income students.
“If you fear a two-tiered system, I’ve got to wake you up: It’s already here,” Williams said. “There’s one tier that can get in and one tier that is locked out.”
After years of cutbacks, two-thirds of community colleges are offering more courses this summer, according to the chancellor’s office. Last summer, enrollment and course offerings hit the lowest level in 15 years, but the passage of a state sales tax increase provided an extra $210 million to community colleges.
In recent years, the state’s community colleges have been hit by $1.5 billion in funding cuts and turned away 600,000 students, according to a report published in March.
The shortage of community college seats “could keep 2.5 million Californians out of the system over the next 10 years,” reports KPBS. Latinos, who are the most likely to attend community colleges, will be hit hard, said Deborah Santiago, who heads research for Excelencia in Education. “Community colleges are, from a sticker price perspective, more affordable and, because they are in the communities where these students live, therefore accessible,” she said.
The study measured students’ performance on the California Standards Test as high school juniors against their first year community college performance in four areas: the portion of the classes they took that transferable to the California State University system; the portion of remedial classes taken; and their grades in both types. In dramatically unsurprising findings. . . the authors found that students with the best scores on the CST had higher grades their first year in community college and were enrolled in fewer remedial classes.
One finding was surprising: “Regardless of their academic achievements in high school, Asian and white students consistently enroll in more transferable courses than their Latino and black counterparts do,” the study found. Whites and Asians in the bottom 25% of CST performance enroll in more transferable courses that blacks and Hispanics in the top 25%.
Latinos and blacks may have attended high schools with lower academic standards, start with less “college knowledge” and be sidelined by placement tests with cultural biases, Michal Kurlaender, an associate professor at the University of California at Davis’s School of Education, told Inside Higher Ed.
At Miami Dade College, pass-Math is boosting Latino pass rates in gatekeeper math courses, improving retention and reducing math anxiety. A program at LaGuardia Community College strengthens counseling to help Latino and other low-income students move from remedial to college-level courses. San Diego State’s peer Mentoring program (pMp) helps community college transfers handle the transition.
Only 21 percent of Latino adults 25 and older have completed an associate degree or higher, compared to 40 percent of all U.S. adults. More Latinos are enrolling in college — especially community college — but success rates are low.
The report spotlights a variety of programs.
The Mother-Daughter Program at Knox College (Illinois) counseled families on the importance of completing a degree. “Latino families make decisions together and an informed family is more supportive,” says Deborah Santiago, Excelencia’s vice president of policy. Some mothers decided to enroll in college after participating with their daughters.
Some programs target male Latinos, who have higher dropout rates. At Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York, Doorway to Success focused on improving male students’ study habits, engagement and retention. The Clave Latino Male Empowerment program at Union County College in New Jersey includes learning communities, a monthly lecture series, professional development opportunities and a social and professional support network for business and economics students.
College enrollment declined by .2 percent in the fall of 2011 — the first drop in 15 years — according to preliminary U.S. Education Department data.
Enrollment dipped 2.23 percent at community colleges and 7 percent at for-profit two-year programs.
During recessions, laid-off workers often enroll in college to learn new skills or wait for the economy to improve, notes Inside Higher Ed.
So it’s possible that enrollments are leveling off (and shrinking slightly) now because the economy had begun rebounding enough by fall 2011 that some of those who had flocked to higher education during the recession began finding jobs. It’s also possible that college tuition levels — which have continued to rise in recent years, driven in part by cutbacks in state support and other traditional sources of colleges’ revenue — are pricing more students out of higher education.
According to the new data, fewer whites are in college, but more minorities. Latino enrollment is up 6.42 percent.
For-profit colleges have lost students in the face of scrutiny about graduation rates, graduates’ job prospects and loan defaults.
The community college decline could be linked to long wait lists at California community colleges.
The drop in community college enrollment could be “the canary in the coal mine . . . a sign that higher education is losing its ability to serve as the primary vehicle for economic mobility,” warns Joni Finney, a Penn education professor, on The Quick and the Ed. ”It is hard to imagine that increased employment opportunities are the cause” of the shift from full-time to part-time studies, she writes.
Congress has refused to pass the Dream Act, which would offer a path to citizenship to young illegal immigrants who enroll in college or serve in the military. But today President Obama ordered a halt to deportations for people under 30 who arrived illegally before the age of 16 and lived in the U.S. for five years. Immigrants must be high school graduates or GED holders with no criminal record, be enrolled in postsecondary education or serve in the military. (Presumably college graduates would be eligible.) Immigrants who qualify will be able to apply for work permits.
While young immigrants won’t get a path to legal status and citizenship, they’ll be able to apply for a two-year “deferred action” that removes the threat of deportation for up to two years, with repeated extensions. “This is not immunity, it is not amnesty,” said Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary. “It is an exercise of discretion.”
The order will cover about 800,000 people, the administration estimates. Counting children under 18 with undocumented status, it will affect up to 1.4 million immigrants, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. It could persuade young Latinos to stay in high school or, at least, to earn a GED. Since many immigrants enroll in community college — and those who are’t in school can easily do so — the order could lead to an enrollment surge at community colleges.
California’s higher education system is not producing the college graduates the state needs to maintain its vitality, according to The Road Ahead: Higher Education, California’s Promise, and Our Future Economy. California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy Council, a group of business and civic leaders, produced the report.
The state’s public and private colleges and universities will graduate more than three million students with bachelor’s degrees and technical credentials between now and 2025, according to the report. However, the state will need more than five million to stay economically competitive, leaving a gap estimated at 2.3 million.
The council proposes streamlining and strengthening community college management and restoring accountability for decision making to local boards and administrators.
The California Community College system office must be more flexible, responsive to changing conditions and accountable for ensuring student success. There must be a stronger advising system for students so they have greater clarity on how to attain a degree or credential. There must also be greater emphasis on completions and transfers to ensure that all students are working towards a specific goal.
In addition, the report calls for state policy makers to create an independent Higher Education Investment Board to help “the state better understand how to improve attainment rates for transfers, degrees and certificates across all colleges and universities.” The board would project the types of degrees needed in the work, develop strategies to meet those needs, working with system leaders.
For every dollar California spends on public higher education the state will reap $4.50 from taxes on the increased earnings of college graduates and lower costs for providing other state safety net services, according to California’s Economic Payoff, a new report by The Campaign for College Opportunity. For Latinos, who make up 45 percent of the state’s college-age population, earning a college degree raises income by $1.2 million over a lifetime, compared to a white high school graduate, the report estimates.
That could be overly optimistic. Graduation rates remain very low for California Latinos, who usually start in community college. And as college-going expands from highly motivated A students to B, C and D students, success rates usually fall.
The U.S. is “disinvesting” in higher education, writes Anthony Carnevale.
Latino students are struggling to complete community college and move on to a university, reports the Long Beach Press-Telegram. While more students are enrolling, it’s taking longer to graduate — or not.
Gerardo Raya enrolled in college in 2008 with the hopes of graduating in four years and scoring a job as an animator or illustrator.
But four years later, Raya is still at Long Beach City College struggling to finish the minimal coursework he needs to transfer to a four-year university.
The 24-year-old said he’s had trouble balancing his work as a recreational aide for a local high school while trying to study for a full load of classes. He’s had to drop classes over the years due to work conflicts and financial problems, but Raya said he’s hopeful he can transfer to Cal State Long Beach next year.
Raya is not alone. The college transfer rate for Latino students is about half that of white students — 14 percent compared with 28 percent — according to the Campaign for College Opportunity, based in California. Only 20 percent of Latino students in community college complete an associate degree or transfer after six years, compared to 37 percent of whites.
“Over half of the children in public schools are Latino, and these are the people who are going to make up our future workforce,” said Michele Siqueiros, the campaign’s executive director.
A grant from the Lumina Foundation is helping funding LBCC’s Promise Pathways Initiative, which starts in the fall. The college is working with Long Beach Unified, which is now 64 percent Latino, to “align college and high school courses, establish assessments and early interventions, and encourage more students to take transfer-level courses in math and English in their first semester,” reports the Press-Telegram. LBCC already partners with the school district and Cal State Long Beach to offer the College Promise, which includes a free first semester at LBCC.
Why do so few Latinos graduate? Blogger Donald Douglas, a political science professor at LBCC, blames weak K-12 preparation and work habits. “Top that off with a lot of kids coming from recent immigrant families, often the first in their family to attend college (and there’s less linguistic and knowledge-based support in the home environment), and the basic foundation of learning isn’t as strong as it might be in other demographics.”
Latinos make up about half of California’s college-age population, the statewide profile found.
In 2009, 57% of Latino students graduated from high school, and of those, only 16% met the A-G requirements for admission to the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) and only half (8%) enrolled in one of those two systems.
In 2009, only 7% of Latinos age 25 and older held a baccalaureate degree in California, compared to 30% of all Californians.
Of Latino students who do go to college, over two thirds start at a California Community College, where only two in 10 earn a certificate, associate degree, or transfer after six years.
At community colleges, Latinos make up 34% of incoming degree-seekers, but comprise only 23% of the overall completers, a drop off rate higher than their white and Asian Pacific Islander peers.
“The college-going and success rates for Latino students in California are cause for significant alarm,” says Michele Siqueiros, executive director of Campaign for College Opportunity. “With the growing Latino population in our state and our increasing reliance on an educated workforce, all of our futures depend on it.”
Community colleges should require students to participate in orientation and diagnostic assessment and set education goals, the campaign advises. In addition, the campaign calls for encouraging more high school graduates to enroll directly in four-year state universities.
Nearly three quarters of Black and Latino degree‐seeking students did not earn a community college degree in six years, according to a supplemental analysis to Divided We Fail: Improving College Completion and Closing Racial Gaps in California’s Community Colleges. Women are more likely to graduate than men, concludes the report by the Campaign for College Opportunity, the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy (IHELP) at Sacramento State, Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), and the Women’s Foundation of California.
While 39 percent of white women earn a degree, the completion rate is only 27 percent for black women and 23 percent for Latinas.
Minority men do much worse. Nearly 80 percent of male Black and Latino college students in California enroll in a community college. After six years, 80 percent have failed to complete a credential.
“For young black men, community colleges are critical in their hopes to learn and become prepared for the workforce so they can improve their standard of living. Unfortunately, many of our men go to community college and then disappear – no training, no degree, no strong employment opportunities,” said Deacon John Wilson, education director of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ.
The state budget crisis may mean more tuition hikes and cuts to student services, warned Michele Siqueiros, executive director of the Campaign for College Opportunity.
Black and Latino students who transfer to a four-year institution often choose a for-profit college, risking substantial debt, the report found.
Only 13 percent of Latino men and 15 percent of Latinas transfer compared to nearly 30 percent of white women.
Although Black students were more likely to transfer to a university than Latinos, they were significantly less likely to complete a transfer curriculum or earn an associate degree.