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Community college has come a long way in recent years, especially with the focus these schools are getting from the current administration. President Obama has labeled these institutions as the hope for American’s economic future and the way this country will remain competitive in a global marketplace. To that end, President Obama has announced a lofty goal of adding 5 million more community college graduates by 2020. He also hosted the first community college summit at the White House last year, which served as the starting point for finding new ways to support these institutions so they are able to meet this ambitious goal.

In this struggling economy, community college has become the go-to place for displaced workers looking for training in a new field and high school graduates who are unable to afford the skyrocketing tuition rates at four-year institutions. However, the path from enrollment to graduation is not always an easy one. We have tips to help incoming students get the most from their community college experience, so they can use it as an effective starting point for a successful and lucrative career.

Are You Ready?
 
The first step toward community college success is proper preparation before the enrollment process even takes place. Whether you are coming to college right out of high school, or have been out of the world of academia for some time, you can determine your college readiness with a relatively simple process.

First, find a readiness assessment online or through . . . read more

The significant role community colleges will play in the country's economy has been underscored by the White House over the past few months with the first annual community college summit taking place in Washington this fall. However, in order for community colleges to become the relevant player that President Obama wants them to be, the current dismal graduation rates at community colleges across the country will need to increase. To that end, the initiative known as "Achieving the Dream" has been implemented to recognize community colleges performing above national standards and use those tools to elevate other colleges to a higher level as well.
 
Achieving the Dream is committed to assisting community colleges better serve their students so more students can realize academic and professional success. Colleges participating in the movement agree to carefully analyze their current procedures and student outcomes and develop and implement new strategies to improve student outcome overall.

In addition, participating colleges agree to monitor their progress and report their findings to Achieving the Dream so that other colleges can benefit from their knowledge and experience. This year, the organization learned three important lessons on improving learning from two of the participating community colleges in their pool.
 
Reducing Achievement Gaps = Increased Student Retention

Valencia Community College in Florida offered a number of programs for under-prepared students coming to the campus for the first time – more than 100 programs, in fact. However, the piecemeal approach to improving student performance was still resulting . . . read more

Nearly every community college and university across the country includes a dean's list, a roster of students who have performed particularly well during the previous semester or school year. The dean's list has traditionally been a prestigious honor for which to strive during your years of higher education because it demonstrates a commitment to academic excellence and the ability to rise to the workload, however heavy it might become. Whether you are just entering the hallowed halls of academia, or are currently working through your degree program, we have a list of reasons to strive for the dean's list and tips to help you get there.
 
What is the Dean's List?
 
According to Wikipedia, the dean's list is "a category of students in a college or university who achieve high grades during their stay in an academic term or academic year." The term is primarily used in North America, but some European institutions offer a dean's list as well.

Requirements for making the dean's list vary from institution to institution, but most mandate a specific number of course hours to be taken and a set GPA to be maintained during the term or school year. It is important to inquire with the advisement center or your academic counselor regarding the specific requirements for the dean’s list at your college.
 
Benefits of the Dean's List
 
The benefits of making the dean's list also vary from school to school, with some colleges even offering additional financial aid to students who make the dean's . . . read more

A majority of California’s school districts, community colleges, and four-year universities are participating in CalPASS, a groundbreaking program that is improving their students’ academic success.   
 
The CalPASS program makes student achievement data from kindergarten through college available to teachers of all levels. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that CalPASS “has collected 346 million student records on 25 million students, including information on demographics, student performance and test scores.”  However, students’ test scores are not connected to any personal or identifying information.  Instead, teachers, professors, and administrators at all levels of California’s public education system can view the data trends, using the information to determine their instructional decisions.
 
CalPASS, which stands for California Partnership for Achieving Student Success, is based in Grossmont Community College in San Diego. It was started in 1998, when Brad Phillips, then the director of research, planning, and academic services at Grossmont, realized that there was no existing channel through which he could ascertain how students from his two-year college were performing academically after they transferred to four-year colleges. Phillips decided that he needed to create such a system so that teachers and administrators could use the information to improve how students are taught.
 
How CalPASS has Benefited Community College Students
 
By allowing instructors to access educational data spanning from kindergarten to college, California’s community college students have enjoyed a myriad of benefits. 
 
Aligns High School and Community College Curriculum
 
According to its newsletter, CalPASS aims to “reduce barriers between the segments [of the public education system] . . . read more

Gone are the days when iPods were strictly limited to playing music. Since iTunes launched iTunes U in 2007, iTunes and iPods have become powerful tools for community college students, teachers, and lifelong learners of all ages. Students can select from a wide variety of video and audio lectures to download and then play these lectures on their computers, iPods, or other mp3 players.

Best of all, all iTunes U content is available to the public free of charge. You may not have realized it, but your iPod can become a learning resource that will improve your grades at community college!

ITunes U, which Apple describes as “possibly the world’s greatest collection of free educational media,” is a section of the iTunes store in which research universities, four-year colleges, and community colleges can post audio and video files. Apple’s website lists the current number of audio and video educational files at over 200,000, and the number continues to grow as more and more colleges begin podcasting their most popular courses.
 
iTunes U and Community Colleges
 
Community colleges are rapidly joining the ranks of iTunes U participating institutions – and with good reason. Community college students often work in addition to going to school, and the ability to make learning more mobile is often highly coveted. A recent article in Community College Week noted that although it is unlikely that a community college will have the funds to give every student an iPod as Duke University did in Fall 2004, . . . read more
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