Graduation

Graduation rates, policies, and caps - oh my! This section covers all topics related to community college graduations. How does state spending impact graduation rates? Who are the oldest community college graduates? What initiatives are in place to stem the rate of dropouts? Find the answers to these questions and more.
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A new report released by the Campaign for College Opportunity shows that of the more than 60,000 students who obtained an associate’s degree in California during the 2012-2013 school year, half took over four years to get their degree. This is an alarmingly long time, especially when compared to the 4.7 years it takes the average student to complete a bachelor’s degree at California State University.

A significant number of community college students choose to take that route because of the affordability. According to data from College Board, in 2011, community college students paid on average $2,713 in tuition and fees, as compared to $7,605 for students who attended an in-state four-year institution. At less than half the cost, community colleges pose significant financial benefits for students who are on a tight budget.

Reference: Center on International Education Benchmarking

However, time seems to be the biggest enemy of students who begin their post-secondary education at the community college level. The College Board’s report shows that of the cohort of students who began their community college studies in 2005, only 21 percent graduated within three years – a full year longer than is traditionally required. Many of the financial benefits gained by attending a two-year institution are lost if students aren’t able to complete their degree on time. Yet, students who enroll in a two-year program are the ones who are most likely to be impacted by factors that extend their graduation timeline. These factors . . . read more

Looking for inspiration? Look no further than some of the stages of community college graduations this year. Amid the young adults parading across the stages to accept their hard-earned degrees, you might see a few faces you would not expect at a graduation event. Some of the oldest community college graduates of 2013 are also some of the most inspiring – if you are lucky enough to grab a few nuggets of their wisdom and their zest for life as you pass them on campus. Check out this amazing selection of the Class of 2013.
 
Beverly Ross
 
To earn her associate degree from Mott Community College this year, Beverly Ross had to overcome two hurdles. The first was a cancer diagnosis she received three years prior. The second was her age, which, at 54, was well beyond the average age of most Mott students. Ross managed to climb over both those obstacles, accepting her diploma in social work just this month.
 
According to mLive, Ross was diagnosed with cancer in her thigh muscle in in May, 2009. Two muscles had to be removed and replaced with bolts, brackets and screws. Ross also underwent intense chemotherapy treatment, which she was told could impact her ability to think. Ross decided to put that warning to the test, and enrolled at Mott Community College soon after.
 
“I’m so excited with proving [the doctor] wrong,” Ross told mLive. “I’m smarter. I’m proving to be smarter to me. After all that, I’m happy I accomplished this . . . read more

Community college completion rates have been a concern since President Obama made these two-year schools a focus in efforts to increase the number of college graduates in the U.S. The truth is that most community colleges currently see relatively low completion rates, due to a myriad of factors working against students attending these schools. The good news is there are many ideas on the table for improving community college completion rates nationwide. Check out these 10 ideas for increasing community college retention that are slowly being put into practice by community colleges across the country.
 
Adding Dual-Enrollment Programs
Dual-enrollment programs allow high school students to earn college credits before they earn their high school diploma. In some cases, the college courses are offered free of charge, depending on whether the state is willing to pick up the tab through special student funding. Other schools charge a nominal tuition fee, which is much lower than what high school graduates can expect to pay. Students that earn college credits during high school are much more likely to see their degree program through to completion.   
 
Collecting Data
The American Council on Education encourages community colleges to join the initiative, “Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count.” The initiative uses measurable data to promote higher student success, particularly among low-income and minority students. Around 130 community colleges nationwide have signed onto the initiative thus far. Some of the schools involved are already showing impressive improvement in student outcomes.
 
Increasing Accountability

College students learn plenty in the years they spend on campus. But do the lessons learned at school prepare them for a professional life after their studies?  Maybe not, according to at least one community college, which has plans to give their students a healthy dose of work readiness skills at the same time they are earning their degree.

Workplace Readiness Certificates
 
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College has provided students with many of the skills necessary to land jobs in the local workforce. Next year, the school will add a new type of certification to their repertoire – a workplace readiness certificates. Students will earn this certificate by demonstrating “soft skills” that employers tend to look for as well, such as punctuality, teamwork and time management. According to Inside Higher Ed, those skills will also begin to play a role in the grades students earn in some of their classes at the college.
 
The North Carolina school is leaving nothing to chance as it prepares faculty to evaluate students for the skills employers are looking for. The school has designed a template to assist professors in assessing primary workplace skills, including:

  • Communication – use of oral and written skills to clearly communicate thoughts and ideas
  • Effort – demonstration of strong work ethic and preparedness for assignments
  • Quality of Work – applicable to classroom work and academic performance
  • Attendance – ability to manage oneself
  • Time Management – punctuality, preparedness, handing in assignments on time
  • Professionalism – image put forth by student in terms of actions, appearance and attitude Professors . . . read more

California community colleges have been struggling in recent years, facing dwindling budgets and increasing scrutiny from college regulatory agencies. Governor Jerry Brown has now taken the community college problem into his own hands, signing legislation that will lead to significant changes in these institutions of higher education. With concern for the low completion rates the California community college system now faces, Governor Brown focused specifically on laws that would increase the odds of student success at community colleges throughout the state.

The Student Success Act of 2012
 
One of the key pieces of legislation Governor Brown recently signed into law was the Student Success Act of 2012 or SB1456. The Press-Telegram reports that this bill focused directly on the state’s community college system, in an effort to improve completion rates and student success at these institutions. The Student Success Act of 2012 includes a number of specific measures community colleges will now have to utilize to help their students succeed in college. Some of the measures include:

  • Development of a student education plan to help students plan course schedules accordingly
  • Requirement that all incoming students attend an orientation session before taking courses
  • Minimum standards for academic success in order to receive fee waivers
  • Creation of a student success report card that will be used to determine future funding
  • Addition of an all new assessment test that will help place students in the proper classes

The bill also contains a provision that ensures new students entering a community college will be able . . . read more
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