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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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...
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The essential difference between competency-based education (CBE) and traditional programs is that CBE measures learning without regard to time. They utilize direct measures of assessment to determine understanding of content, as opposed to requiring a certain number of credits or contact hours of class time in order to earn a letter grade. Students instead demonstrate what they know when they know it well enough to be deemed competent. In essence, it is much like an AP exam, only on a far larger scale: AP students must pass a test with a certain level of competency in order to earn credit for the course. Students in a competency-based program must do the same for each course they undertake.
 
The first program completely based on competencies rather than credits was green-lighted by the Department of Education in August of 2013 at College of America, a community college associated with Southern New Hampshire University. Since then, there has been a push for this type of system to be implemented at community colleges across the country. This movement is the result of several shifts in the landscape of higher education in recent years. As the cost of a college education continues to rise, community colleges, universities, federal agencies, and private entities have been exploring a less expensive way for students to obtain a degree or certification. The individualized pacing of CBE is seen by many as a solution to this problem, as it is a system of learning completely free of time-based instruction.

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Community college is often the choice for women seeking higher education. These institutions typically provide many features adult female students need, including proximity to their homes and affordable tuition rates. However, one primary barrier consistently interferes with a woman’s ability to complete her community college education, according to a recent report.
 
Primary Barrier for Student Parents: Affordable Child Care
 
The majority of student parents at community colleges today are women who are trying to juggle family, work and school responsibilities as they pursue a higher education. A new report released by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) shows that the largest obstacle facing this student demographic is access to affordable child care. Unfortunately, Raw Story reports that these findings have been released at a time when federal funding for child care is dwindling across the country.

The report, titled, “Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success,” was officially released just before Mother’s Day. The authors of the report, Andresse St. Rose and Catherine Hill, used a variety of sources as they put together their analysis. These sources included a review of community college literature, interviews with college students and leaders, and program materials from select schools. Federal data was also used to compile the report, including facts and figures from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study.
 
Significant Number of Students Impacted by Barrier
 
According to the report, the child care obstacle impacts female student parents most often. The report states, “A majority of...
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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....
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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...
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Recent Articles
Students Stuck for Four Years to Earn an Associate?s Degree
Students Stuck for Four Years to Earn an Associate?s Degree
A recent report revealed that many California community college students take twice as long to get an associate’s degree as is normally required. While community college is less expensive than attending a four-year institution, students who drag out their degree programs lose much of that savings in additional tuition, fees, textbooks, and lost wages. In this article, we examine the reasons why some students take so long to graduate.
Undeserved Community College Accreditation: Abuse of Power?
Complaints about the current system of accrediting community colleges, combined with the quickly changing scope of community college education and how it’s delivered, may soon necessitate changes in the way that community college programs are accredited.
Competency-Based Education: Better for Your Academic Success?
In recent years, interest in competency-based education has risen drastically. It is a form of learning in which students engage in self-paced instruction and assessment of aptitudes rather than attending traditional courses and receiving traditional grades. Seen as the future of community college education by some, and as a cheapened version of a real education by others, competency-based education appears to be here to stay.
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.