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.
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Updated September 15, 2015 |
Short Term Commitment – Long Term Benefits: Three Study-Abroad Options for Community College Students
While study abroad has long been considered an option only for students at four-year colleges and universities, there are actually many options for community college students who would like to experience studying in another country.
For many students attending four-year colleges or universities, a semester abroad is a typical experience and one that offers a host of benefits. Students who study abroad have the opportunity to live and study within a new culture, and often have the chance to hone valuable language skills.
 
However, for community college students, many of whom have important responsibilities outside of the classroom, spending months away from home and work is impractical at best, and more than likely impossible.
 
In recent years several community colleges have identified the benefits of studying abroad, and have acknowledged the unique challenges their students face in doing so. As a result, many community colleges now offer short-term study-abroad programs, as well as traditional semester programs. In the last decades, the number of community college students who take the opportunity to study abroad has expanded tremendously, from just fewer than 4,000 students back in 2001, to almost 300,000 in 2015.
 
Community colleges offer programs to fit the schedules and unique learning needs of almost any student:
  • Short-term educational programs
  • Traditional semester-long programs
  • Short and long term volunteer or service learning programs
Community college students can work with study abroad program providers, who will coordinate with a student’s college to assess the credit available for different short and long term programs. They can also enroll directly with foreign universities and transfer credits when they return. Finally, students can work with their own community colleges’ programs.
 
Short Term Study Abroad
 
Several providers offer short-term study abroad programs that are ideal for busy community college students.
  • CIEE
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Updated April 10, 2015 |
Mental Health Support for Community College Students
With serious mental health issues on the rise on college campuses nationwide, community colleges are scrambling to provide expanded mental health services to students.
Heading off to college is a time filled with excitement about the future. Meeting new people, learning new things, and experiencing college life are all events that many college students look forward to. Yet, college is also an extremely stressful time. The cost of college attendance, increased academic demands, and concerns about dating, relationships, and friendships are all common factors that contribute to an increasing number of college students that report a mental health issue.
 
If you find yourself feeling down, anxious, or otherwise mentally unwell, you are definitely not alone. Research from the American Psychological Association shows that 44 percent of students that seek help at their college counseling center have a severe psychological issue. That’s up from just 10 percent in 2000!   Most mental health issues present themselves between the ages of 18-24 as well. 
 
The National Alliance of Mental Illness surveyed college students diagnosed with a mental health condition within the last five years, with 19% of the surveyed individuals being community colleges.  Depression and bipolar disorder constituted more than 50% of the respondents' diagnoses.  The results across the spectrum were:   
In this article, we review several common mental health problems that community college students face, as well as solutions to help you get back on a path to good mental health.
 
Depression
According to research by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 27 percent of college students live with
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Updated April 10, 2015 |
5 Support Services to Boost Your Community College Success
College can be a difficult transition for many students. To help address students’ academic needs, many community colleges have started support services programs. Learn about some of these common programs and how they can help you be successful in school.
There are many perks to attending community college. From a financial standpoint, a community college education is far less expensive than one from a four-year school. Class sizes at community colleges tend to be smaller, so students can usually count on more individualized attention from your professors. Community college campuses are often closer to home as well, so students have an easier commute if they live off campus. If they live on campus, there are more social and recreational programs available today than ever before.
 
But going to college can still be a hard transition to make. The coursework is more rigorous than in high school, which can cause some students to struggle to keep pace. Some students enter community college without all the skills they need to be successful as well. Fortunately, community colleges have made student support services a primary focus of improvement over the course of the last twenty years. With academic support services like tutoring and remedial classes, on-campus advising and counseling services, and job-placement and transfer assistance programs, campuses offer assistance for students’ most common needs.  
Remedial Coursework Revisited
 
According to a report by the Community College Research Center, about six in ten community college students are referred to some kind of remedial course. For a healthy portion of those students, more than one remedial course is required. Being told you have to take a basic course in college can be surprising – and disconcerting – because most community college students
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Updated April 10, 2015
The Pros and Cons of Online Courses
Thanks to modern technology, students can now attend class from the comfort of their homes. While online courses were once deemed inferior to lecture halls, the stigma has seemed to fade as technology advances and becomes a greater and greater part of a standard academic curriculum. The virtual classroom is here, but are online college courses right for you?
The virtual classroom is here, but are online college courses right for you?
 
Thanks to modern technology, students can now attend class from the comfort of their homes. While online courses were once deemed inferior to lecture halls, the stigma has seemed to fade as technology advances and becomes a greater and greater part of a standard academic curriculum. Students, young and old, now have the choice to pursue online learning, whether through a single class or a full online university course load. But are there benefits to online learning? Or is something lost in translation when education becomes virtual? We examined both sides of the equation with several leading educational professionals.
The Pros of Online Courses 
 
Flexible Learning 
 
A flexible schedule is one of the main benefits of taking online courses. Mary Stephens, Founder and CEO of PrepForward.com, points out that online education “allows individuals to study at their own pace and on their own schedule.” Digital “classrooms” can be accessed anywhere, at any time. Mary, who teaches online courses at institutions across the U.S., believes this is a prime benefit to online learning in a world chock-full of so many hectic schedules.  
 
Professor Linda Williams, Founder and CEO of Whose Apple Empowerment Center, goes on to add, “Online courses do not require classroom attendance that can be disruptive to family and career obligations. The basic requirements in the virtual course room are clearly delineated and meeting deadlines can be
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Updated March 03, 2015 |
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.
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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