Student Issues / Attending College

Academics, extracurricular activities, housing and more: be savvy about all facets of attending community college. Get tips on making the dean’s list, find ways to benefit from community college outside the classroom, and analyze the latest data on graduation and employment rates.
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While most students are getting to wind down for the summer months, community colleges are gearing up with a whole new set of learning opportunities for college students and community residents. From camps for kids to summer school for struggling college students, these campuses continue to bustle with activity all summer long. Check out how some community colleges across the country are planning to spend their summer “vacation” this year.
 
Summer School Comes Back to California Schools
 
It wasn’t that long ago that community colleges in California were forced to cut summer school options due to dismal bottom lines. The good news is that summer school is back in action for California students this year, according to The Business Journal. Thanks to additional funding from Prop. 30, schools across the state will be offering a handful of courses to students who want to continue their studies during the summer months.
 
College of the Sequoias will be offering around 40 classes this summer, including many basic courses students are required to take for degree completion programs. While the number may not be close to the dozens of courses available prior to the budget cuts, it will ease the strain on many students who have had difficulty getting into classes required for graduation. Because of the high demand for summer classes, wait list and priority registration have already been established.
 
West Hills Community College District will also add more summer class options this year, The Business Journal reports. Online classes will also . . . read more

Online learning is developing a more widespread presence at community colleges across the country. The ability to offer classes via the Internet allows for a greater number of students to take the courses on their own time. Flexibility is the big buzzword, with online options providing students the ability to work higher education around work and family responsibilities. However, these new online offerings have their drawbacks as well as their benefits, which have prevented students from embracing them as a full-time college choice.
 
Study Shows Online Learning Works in Some Situations
 
A recent study from the Community College Research Center and Columbia University’s Teachers College found that students prefer online classes in some situations, but not all the time. According to Inside Higher Ed, students preferred face-to-face contact with instructors if the classes were especially challenging or the subject matter was complex or important. Students told researchers they did not feel they learned the material in a class as thoroughly when the class was taught online.
 
For the study, researchers talked to 46 students at two different community colleges in Virginia. Students surveyed had taken both online and face-to-face classes on their college campus. While the number of students included in the study was relatively small, researchers believe they demonstrated a valid representation of community college students across the country.
 
U.S. News reported that the students interviewed in this study told researchers they would be willing to take online classes for certain subjects. However, most preferred the face-to-face classroom experience, . . . 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

Interested in learning how community colleges throughout the state of California are performing? Now, it is easier than ever before to check on the progress of these schools, through a new scorecard system, that provides measurable date regarding student performance and success. The new web-based scorecards, which were recommended by the Student Task Force, provide statistics on completion and persistence rates, as well as other significant data.
 
About the New System
 
According to Inside Higher Ed, the new scorecard system was created in the midst of a series of reforms to improve the California Community College System overall. The scorecards represent an effort by community colleges to become more transparent to the general public, so that students considering higher education will be able to make more informed choices about schools in the state. There is also a hope that the accountability associated with the scorecard system will motivate schools to raise the bar on student performance and completion rates.
 
Community colleges have traditionally provided a cost-effective means of pursuing higher education for students of all backgrounds and income levels. However, reports of dismal completion rates, coupled with the system’s inability to accommodate all students in recent years, has placed greater scrutiny on the value of these schools. The current administration’s focus on community college as a means of turning out more college graduates has also created a need for more accountability for these schools.
 
The Purpose of the Scorecards
 
Brice W. Harris, chancellor of the California Community College System, told Inside . . . read more

Campus housing has traditionally been seen as a privilege reserved for students of four-year colleges and universities. However, as the demand for affordable postsecondary education continues to rise, so does the availability of campus housing on community college campuses nationwide. While the number of community colleges offering on-campus living is still relatively small, the number is steadily growing. Why the sudden interest in dorm living from community college students? There appear to be many reasons for this rising trend.
 
The Demand for On-Campus Housing
 
A recent report from Community College Week highlights the increasing demand for on-campus housing many community colleges are now facing. According to the report, around 80 community colleges currently offer residence halls or dormitories, which is a relatively small percentage of the more than 1,200 community colleges across the country. However, more schools are announcing plans for building housing on campus, as community colleges are working to increase their presence as a viable postsecondary alternative to more expensive four-year schools.
 
Many community colleges are now recruiting student athletes and boasting specialized programs that draw students from outside their immediate area. Without the ability to commute, these students are now on the hunt for affordable housing around the community college campus. On-campus dormitories and apartments have become the best solution for many schools today. As other schools see the popularity of campus housing, they are also implementing plans to construct their own housing to remain competitive in the community college market.
 
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Recent Articles
Freshman Year in College Looks More and More Like High School
Freshman Year in College Looks More and More Like High School
Nearly 52 percent of community college students in the United States begin their freshman year in at least one remedial class. These courses, which help students acquire knowledge and skills they should have acquired in high school, do not count toward their degree requirements. As a result, students are taking longer than ever to obtain their degree, if they obtain one at all.
Federal Student Loans – Unavailable at 20% of Community Colleges
Although a community college education is inexpensive when compared to tuition and fees at a four-year institution, some students still need financial assistance to pay their education bills. Yet, some community colleges don’t participate in the federal student loan program, putting some students in a financial bind.
Post-Recession Cliff Looms for Community Colleges
While many factors have contributed to the current decline in community college enrollment, the recovering economy is chief among them. As more and more people return to the workforce, fewer students enroll in courses at community colleges. Many institutions must now deal with budget shortfalls in the face of double-digit declines in enrollment.
Student Issues / Attending College

Extracurricular Activities

Community college can be fun and socially enriching, especially with the right extracurricular activities. Reasons to join the debate club, volunteer opportunities and wellness programs are just a few topics covered here. Explore the benefits of community college outside of the classroom, from holiday celebrations to athletic programs, schools are finding ways to keep students engaged on campus.

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.

Community College Housing

The number of community colleges offering on-campus housing is on the rise. Learn more about campus living options, compare the pros and cons of dorm life, and get help deciding what housing is best for you.

Improving Learning

Get helpful tips and expert advice on boosting your GPA. This section will provide valuable tips on studying, mentor programs and how to avoid academic probation. Examine the latest trends in student motivation techniques, take a good look at online learning, and find resources to guide you on the path to success.

Improving Your Job Search

Whether you have just enrolled in community college or you’re ready to graduate and enter the job market, our articles can help improve your opportunities of landing the perfect job. Internships and apprenticeships offer lots of benefits, find out how participation in these programs can move your resume to the top of the pile. Analyze employment data for community college graduates and determine who is getting hired. Get valuable tips on polishing your candidacy and making the most of job fairs.

Class Schedules

- Do you need child care? Are you employed full-time? Community colleges offer a variety of scheduling options, allowing most students to easily integrate continued education into an already busy schedule. From weekend classes to courses at midnight, we cover the gamut of flexible class schedules at community college.