Washington Monthly Rates Community Colleges in 2013 Ranking

The rankings are out from Washington Monthly, giving prospective students and their parents a snapshot of some of the top-performing community colleges in the country for 2013. This publication is one of the few that includes community colleges in their overall rankings of postsecondary institutions. In addition, the publication uses slightly different criteria for ranking schools, which may make this list noteworthy to those trying to gain a complete picture of a community college before shelling out that first tuition payment.
 
Unique Metrics Set New Rankings Apart
 
According to the Christian Science Monitor, one of the factors that sets the Washington Monthly rankings apart from the rest is the somewhat unique metrics used to rate colleges. Instead of focusing merely on admission difficulty and reputation, this ranking system uses criteria like commitment to research and service, and social mobility. The publication also includes a “best bang for your buck” category for four-year schools that ranks them according to the price paid for a degree vs. what graduates can expect to get back in return.
 
The fact that Washington Monthly provides a ranking of community colleges also sets this annual list apart from the rest. Although two out of every five college students opt for community college after high school, few ranking systems provide this type of information for these schools. However, as community colleges continue to increase in popularity among high school graduates and working adults alike, the need for this type of information grows as well.
 
Benchmarks from CCSSE
 
The
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The rankings are in for this year’s analysis of the top degree-producing community colleges by Community College Week. In addition to listing the top 100 schools, researchers also discovered that the overall number of associate degrees earned made a jump this year, to top one million for the first time in history. Some schools that made significant contributions to this total are now celebrating their accomplishments with recognition in the rankings.
 
How States Fared
 
The latest analysis also looked at the number of associate degrees by state. That total number was weighed against the total population in the state, to get a more accurate idea of the percentage of state residents earning degrees or certification from community college. While states with larger populations also tended to issue more associate degrees, some states turned out more community college graduates as a percentage of their total population than others.
 
The state with the most associate degrees during the 2011-2012 academic year was California, with 114,612 degrees awarded. California also boasts one of the largest overall populations in the country, as well as the largest community college system in the U.S. However, the second biggest degree-producing state was Florida, even though that state ranked fourth in overall population.
 
Other states that ranked in the top 10 in terms of degree productions included:
 
       ·      New York (69,654)
       ·      Texas (69,654)
       ·      Arizona (62,990)
       ·      Illinois (41,618)
       ·      Ohio (35,871)
       ·      Michigan (33,322)
       ·      Pennsylvania (29,794)
       ·      Washington (28,977)
 
The smallest number of associate degrees
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In their quest to find effective transfer agreements for their students, community colleges appear to be tapping an unlikely source – for-profit schools. The University of Phoenix has announced partnerships pending with a number of community colleges across the country to offer students at these schools seamless four-year degree options. However, not everyone believes the union between for-profit schools and community colleges will be an amicable or beneficial one.
 
100 New Partnerships Announced by For-Profit
 
The American Independent reports that the University of Phoenix plans to launch more than 100 partnerships with various community colleges nationwide during this upcoming school year. The for-profit university hopes that the new arrangements will provide the financial shot in the arm the institution needs after suffering significant budget setbacks in recent years. Reputation is also a concern for University of Phoenix, as the for-profit sector has been plagued with reports of low completion rates and high student debt.
 
Despite promises of dozens of partnerships by the end of 2013, the University of Phoenix has only finalized agreements with a handful of community colleges thus far. The most notable is a transfer agreement with Northern Virginia Community College, also known as NOVA. NOVA has received plenty of attention from the recent administration, since this is the school where Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, teaches.
 
The second system that has formed a partnership with the University of Phoenix is the Maricopa Community College System in Arizona. According to a press
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In light of increasing concerns over campus safety, some community colleges are banning firearms this fall. The move has renewed debate over whether guns should be allowed on campus, whether carried by students, faculty or both. While there are arguments to be made in favor of either position, the trend for this year appears to be focused on keeping guns off campus in hopes of keeping students just a little safer during the school year.
 
California Community Colleges Say No to Guns
 
The Los Angeles Times reports that all nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District in California will become gun-free zones when students head back to class this fall. The Board of Trustees for the schools recently voted unanimously to ban firearms in nearly all circumstances for this school year.
 
“It is our responsibility to provide a safe environment for our students, allowing them to feel secure and able to totally focus on their academic goals,” Scott Svonkin, vice president of the board, told the L.A. Times. “They must never be fearful about setting foot on one of our campuses,” Svonkin added.
 
Previous Shootings Spur Decision
 
The reasoning behind the ban was a string of violent school shootings, with the most recent occurring at Santa Monica College in June, 2013. During that incident, another Los Angeles Times article reported that five victims died, along with the shooter. The 10-minute rampage began when the shooter killed his father and older brother and set their house on fire.
 
The
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A new study finds that a growing number of adjunct professors could be contributing to low completion rates at community colleges across the state of Massachusetts. The study, which was conducted by the Massachusetts Teacher Association, failed to make a direct correlation between adjunct faculty and low completion rates. However, those involved in the study, as well as others in the community college population, agree that adjunct professors simply don’t have the time or resources to help students succeed the way full-time professors can.

More Adjunct Faculty Seen Statewide
 
The study, titled, “Reverse the Course: Changing Staffing and Funding Policies at Massachusetts Community Colleges,” found that less than one-third of courses taught at community colleges in the state are taught by full-time faculty members. According to the MTA website, that number has been steadily declining since the 2004-2005 school year, when it was 34%. Today, that number is more like 28%.

During the same time, the study found that only around 17% of students enrolled in community colleges across the state successfully completed their degree programs. The dismal number was limited to first-time community college students who failed to earn a two-year degree within three years. Researchers attributed the low rates to a growing number of adjunct faculty members.
 
“This practice of failing to expand the state-funded faculty in favor of Division of Continuing Education (adjunct) faculty contributes to the problem of low student outcomes,” the report was quoted as stating at the Telegram.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Adjunct
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