The rocky road to higher ed

We need to streamline the path to higher education by making it easier for community college students to transfer, writes Brian C. Mitchell, director of the Edvance Foundation, in the Huffington Post.

The vast majority of incoming community college students plan to earn a four-year degree, yet just 29 percent will transfer and only 16 percent will go on to earn a bachelors degree or higher, Mitchell writes. By contrast, 60 percent who start at a four-year institutions will earn a bachelor’s degree.

Edvance’s Nexpectation Network will work on building pathways that enable students to move from community college to a bachelor’s degree to the workforce. That starts with preparing students for the academic challenges ahead. Transfer students will need “the capacity to speak well, work cooperatively, write, apply quantitative methods, and use technology,” Mitchell writes. If community colleges do their part, four-year colleges and universities must commit to reserving openings for transfers and supporting their success.

. . . we need to identify students likely to seek a four-year degree as early as possible . . .  Students and their families must be encouraged to “imagine the possible” as they plan their postsecondary education. Counselors — especially a new group of success counselors paid for through savings recovered as the recruitment costs per student decrease at four-year schools — must work through economic, familial, social and cultural barriers to find “best fit” transfer schools and tap into the $18 billion in institutional aid available each year.

Nexpectation is trying to develop a “high tech/high touch” model with mentors to guide students through their postsecondary years. Mitchell envisions a “rough combination of philosophical and practical — sort of Pell meets Posse.”