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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Community college can be a challenging prospect for new students, whether they are coming right out of high school or after being in the workforce for a number of years. To make the transition smoother, a number of community colleges across the country have established mentoring programs connecting new students with those who already know the ropes. In the past several academic years, more of these programs have been introduced, thanks to grant money and willing mentor participants. We’ll take a look at why mentoring can be a valuable tool in the community college environment and how some schools are using the concept for the benefit of new students.

What is Mentoring?
 
Mentoring programs work by pairing newcomers with older, more experienced students. Mentors may provide a number of valuable functions, including helping new students with their schedules, providing campus tours and offering information about resources and facilities available on campus. In some cases, mentors might also be faculty members dedicated to helping new students succeed by easing them through the transition between high school or the workforce and a college environment. These programs can be a powerful tool to student success when they are correctly implemented.
 
For students that need special help when they get to community college, a mentor program can truly be a lifesaver. The mentors that work in these organizations may point new students to the resources and additional assistance they need, whether it is academic, financial or of another sort. In addition to . . . read more

A college education is an important component to a lucrative and successful career today, whether the degree is earned at a community college or four-year university. That fact is driving the efforts of the current administration to raise the completion rates at community colleges across the country within the next decade. President Obama has launched an initiative to graduate five million new students from community colleges by 2020. The president believes this lofty goal will help the United States establish itself in the top spot for college graduates and beef up the country’s economic outlook at the same time.

However, many states have found that the current economic crunch and exceedingly high unemployment rate are forcing them to make difficult decisions when balancing their budgets. Some of those decisions involve cutting funding to institutions of higher education –just when schools need money the most. When less money is available, students tend to suffer from fewer services and crowded classes that make it difficult to graduate on time. Less funding also means fewer options in financial aid and higher tuition rates, which often price many low-income students right out of the community college market.
 
New Report Shows Shrinking Budgets Impacting Completion Rates
 
A new report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education shows a direct correlation between less funding and diminishing completion rates at many community colleges around the country. According to the agency’s website, the report, titled, “Affordability and Transfer: . . . read more

Community colleges have historically provided a much different environment than the traditional four-year university. One of the biggest differences between the two is that students at community colleges do not tend to live in a single community on or near the college campus. However, many community colleges across the country are tuning in to the advantages on-campus housing can provide to students of all ages. This article will explore the new trend of living on a community college campus and some of the schools around the country that are adopting this model for a richer, more community-oriented academic environment.

Benefits of Living On Campus
 
Community colleges are now realizing some of the benefits of living on campus that four-year colleges have known for generations, including:

  • Better proximity to college resources like the library and recreation center
  • Exposure to international lifestyles that comes from living near fellow students from around the globe
  • The ability to fully immerse oneself in the college experience by remaining in the environment after classes are finished for the day
  • Ease of meeting other students and building relationships with those in a similar season of life
  • Apartments or dormitories that are often fully furnished and affordable, providing an economic housing option to cash-strapped students
Today, many community college students are beginning to enjoy these benefits as their school campuses are adding housing to the mix. We will take a look at some of the specific colleges that allow students to live on campus or are adding housing options in the near future.
 

President Obama has announced an ambitious plan to graduate an additional 5 million community college students by 2020. To achieve this end, the President has raised the level of awareness about the benefits of community colleges and issued grants and other funding to raise enrollment levels across the country. However, getting more students into college is only the first part of the battle.
 
Low Completion Rates a National Problem
 
Graduation rates for community colleges are currently dismal at best, with less than one-quarter who enroll in a college graduating from a degree or certificate program within three years, according to a report at the Houston Chronicle. That figure varies throughout the country, with some states seeing even lower numbers in their graduation rates. For example, Texas faces s a community college graduation rate of just 12 percent within three years, although that number goes up to 30 percent within six years. Still, if community colleges are to truly raise up a workforce that can compete in the global economy, they must do much better than the status quo.
 
The worst numbers appear to come from low-income students, who enter community college in an effort to bring themselves to a higher earning level. However, the majority of these students never complete their degree or certificate program, which reduces their chances of a decent-paying job or transfer to a four-year institution. In a community college summit last fall, President Obama told the Christian Science Monitor, "In . . . 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
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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.