Study Finds Massachusetts Community Colleges Reliance on Adjunct Faculty Problematic

A new study finds that a growing number of adjunct professors could be contributing to low completion rates at community colleges across the state of Massachusetts. The study, which was conducted by the Massachusetts Teacher Association, failed to make a direct correlation between adjunct faculty and low completion rates. However, those involved in the study, as well as others in the community college population, agree that adjunct professors simply don’t have the time or resources to help students succeed the way full-time professors can.

More Adjunct Faculty Seen Statewide
 
The study, titled, “Reverse the Course: Changing Staffing and Funding Policies at Massachusetts Community Colleges,” found that less than one-third of courses taught at community colleges in the state are taught by full-time faculty members. According to the MTA website, that number has been steadily declining since the 2004-2005 school year, when it was 34%. Today, that number is more like 28%.

During the same time, the study found that only around 17% of students enrolled in community colleges across the state successfully completed their degree programs. The dismal number was limited to first-time community college students who failed to earn a two-year degree within three years. Researchers attributed the low rates to a growing number of adjunct faculty members.
 
“This practice of failing to expand the state-funded faculty in favor of Division of Continuing Education (adjunct) faculty contributes to the problem of low student outcomes,” the report was quoted as stating at the Telegram.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Adjunct . . . read more

Students heading to community college this fall may see some new features at their otherwise familiar campuses. Many schools have spent the summer months getting ready for the next academic year adding a wide range of options designed to attract students from all demographics. Check out five new features community college students may discover when they head back to the ivied halls this fall.
 
New Technology
 
As community colleges strive to bring their training in line with 21st century workforce needs, more technology is coming to schools across the country. For example, Diverse Issues in Higher Education reports that Prince George’s Community College has added innovative technology to the school’s state-of-the-art nursing program. The school invested $43 million into a new Center for Health Studies in an effort to accommodate a growing population of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students at the school.
 
Simulated mannequins are now used inside the center to teach nursing students the finer points of diagnosis and patient care. The nursing lab also boasts transparent mirrors where professors can observe students during diagnosis trials. Updated equipment, including sonography and surgical tools, are similar to those used at nearby hospital facilities in the Prince George area.
 
“Since nursing and health fields in general are among the fastest growing jobs, we really wanted this building to help make room for more health science students,” Angela Anderson, dean of the division of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College, told Diverse Issues in Higher Education.
 
More Classes
 
Other community colleges across . . . read more

Before the dust even settles on problems faced by City College of San Francisco, other California community colleges may be facing similar challenges. The largest community college in the state was recently notified it would lose its accreditation by next summer. Now, other schools in the state are dealing with warnings, sanctions and possible loss of accreditation as well. What does the future hold for community colleges in the Golden State?
 
Accreditation Reviews Hit the State
 
The Accrediting Commission for Junior and Community Colleges (ACJCC) has been busy in recent months, reviewing California schools and making recommendations for follow-up action as needed. The comprehensive process resulted in the termination of accreditation for City College of San Francisco, the largest community college in the state with a student population of 85,000. In addition, other schools have been issued warnings and one was placed on probation after the review was completed.
 
The news is not all bad in California, however. Some community colleges in the state also had warnings upgraded to lighter sanctions, or had the warnings removed altogether. While the list of schools recently reviewed is a long one, we’ll take a look at a few of the highlights of the report that shed light on the state of the California Community College System overall.
 
Community Colleges Working Through Sanctions
 
Two community colleges in the state will begin the process of working through their list of recommendations to get their sanctions removed by next summer. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that . . . read more

Few people may be pulling out the Christmas lights or playing the carols just yet, but at community colleges across the country, the season of giving has already begun. Whether schools are helping those in need in their communities, or receiving assistance from generous donors, ‘tis the season for many of these schools. Check out how some community colleges are celebrating the giving – and receiving – season a little early this year.
 
Kauai Community College Reaches Out to Vets
 
This Hawaiian community college is making a point to provide opportunities to veterans on the Islands – particularly vets interested in pursuing higher education. The Garden Island reports faculty from the school recently met with area vets to brainstorm ways the school could reach out more effectively to this population. According to the article, the school had 41 vets enrolled during the past spring semester and would like to see that number increase.
 
Kauai Community College is committed to serving the veterans by assisting them in enrolling in higher education, career counseling, succeeding in college, and finding a job,” Earl Nishiguchi, vice chancellor for student affairs, told The Garden Island.
 
The meeting consisted of college employees listening to concerns raised by veterans and other military personnel in attendance. The hope is that this meeting will spark a partnership between the college and military community that will lead to increased educational and career success for vets who call the Islands home.
 
St. Louis Community College Cleans Up the Neighborhood
 

Student loan debt statistics continue to shock. Just two years ago, the average student loan debt in America was estimated at about $27,000. Now, a recent study from Fidelity Investments reveals that 70 percent of students who graduated college in 2013 borrowed money from various federal, state, and private sources to help pay for their education. And they left school with an average debt of $35,200. That's a 35 percent increase.

The Fidelity study also found that 50 percent of those 2013 graduates who had taken out student loans expressed surprise by just how much debt they had accumulated. That's another shocking statistic that clearly demonstrates just how difficult it is for many college-age students to visualize what their lives will be like when the borrowing phase of their student loans is over and the dreaded repayment phase begins. And that's not a good place to be.

The bottom line is that student loans are not optional arrangements between you and your lenders. They have to be repaid. They cannot be ignored or put off and federal law stipulates that they cannot even be discharged via bankruptcy. If you default on your student loans you can have your tax refunds intercepted, a portion of your wages garnished, judgments or lawsuits issued against you or collection fees added to your loan balances – not to mention harassing calls and tactics from aggressive creditors.

That's why it's absolutely critical that if you are a student loan borrower, you learn how to manage . . . read more
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