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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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]
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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,
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While all mentoring programs help improve student performance and graduation rates, some community colleges are finding that minority mentorship programs are even more beneficial.  Colleges across the country are celebrating the outstanding results achieved through the collaborative efforts of on-campus minority mentoring programs.  As the Education Resources Services Center articulates, “Mentoring is a process that can increase the retention of minority students, with larger numbers graduated and hired for faculty positions.” 
To discover the benefits of minority mentoring opportunities, consider what some of the top performing organizations have been able to achieve with their local community college support.   
Examining the College Student Spectrum
According to the Community College Review Journal, diversity among community college student populations is constantly shifting.  In fact, recent US Census Bureau reports show that 42.3 percent of African Americans enrolled in college programs are specifically taking courses at community colleges.  50 percent of Native American college students, as well as over 55 percent of Hispanic college students, are also enrolled in classes at various community colleges. 
However, as the Community College Review Journal asserts, “Despite these changes, these populations of students may be confronted with many issues that are detrimental to their retention and success, such as lower levels of academic preparation in high school, lower socioeconomic status, and greater alienation in these institutions.” 
Due to these specific challenges, many community colleges report higher dropout rates and lower academic achievement results from minority students.  To address these issues, some college leaders believe that providing
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While many feel a sigh of relief after leaving behind their former high school classrooms, new college students must ensure they adhere to their community college's academic requirements. Although community college certainly offers greater freedoms, students must maintain acceptable academic progress in order to stay enrolled.

Academic Probation Overview
As Lord Fairfax Community College (LCC), located in Warrenton, Virginia, reveals, there are strict guidelines and expectations for students' academic progress and conduct. While each institution has its own regulations, LCC requires that all students maintain a GPA above a 2.0. According to LCC policies, any student who fails to earn a 2.0 GPA for even one semester will receive an immediate “Academic Warning.” Similarly, any student who fails any course will also receive such warning. This warning is designed to alert students of potential consequences if the low academic achievements continue.
Students enrolled in LCC who have earned 12 credit hours, and who additionally fail to meet an overall GPA of 1.5, are placed on “Academic Probation.” As a much more serious step, academic probation is permanently documented on a student's record. A student in this circumstance is required to meet with a faculty advisor for additional guidance. Furthermore, with the support of an advisor or counselor, students may be required to reduce their anticipated course load for their upcoming semester(s). Adding to the implications, students on academic probation are banned from being appointed to any elective office in student organizations. Typically, academic probation lasts only one semester, as
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Enrolling in honors courses in high school certainly offers its advantages, ranging from intellectual challenges to fast-paced learning. The perks of honors classes, however, are not restricted to high school!

Today, many community colleges are providing students with honors credit and accolades. Through the various advantages associated with honors courses, students enrolled in community college can enhance their competitiveness as they prepare for graduation and the challenging job market.

Honors Options at the Community College Level
While each community college offers its own programs and standards, Quinsigamond Community College is one of the exemplary schools providing diverse honors academic opportunities. Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) is one of the many institutions providing students with advanced honors credit. As QCC explains, their honors program is designed to “Motivate academically talented students to develop their fullest potential... The Program seeks to awaken and nurture a sense of humane citizenry and community responsibility within its members.”

Alongside general credit courses, students eligible to enroll in honors courses are permitted to engage in these alternative learning venues to fine tune their critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills. While the objectives for standard and honors courses maintain the same focus, students enrolled in QCC honors classes typically experience more classroom involvement, alongside enhanced independent analysis.

The Benefits of Honors Courses at the Community College Level

As the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) reveals, enrolling in honors courses at the college level demonstrates a student's skills, abilities, and work ethics. Adding to this,
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