$$$ for Student Essays

The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) is pleased to announce the third annual Community College Week-NISOD Student Essay Contest in honor of Scott Wright. The winning essay is awarded a total of $3,000+ in prizes to be shared with the student author, the outstanding faculty/staff/administrator featured in the essay, and the student’s community college.

Knowing you may want to promote this on your campus, you can download a PDF of the contest flyer and find the essay contest guidelines, entry information, a detailed list of prizes, and the online submission form on our website.

We hope that you will forward the information to other faculty, staff, administrators, and students. We also invite you to post the flyer on your campus. The deadline for the essay submission is November 8, 2010.

This might be a rewarding (in multiple senses of the word) essay to assign for class. If you have an opening in your schedule or can create one, it might be fun to do.

My students are always interested in doing something which will get them more money.

CCs: A Smarter Choice?

The smartest students don’t go to Harvard, MIT or Yale, writes Zac Bissonnette in Daily Finance. The smartest people go to community colleges.

What’s smarter than saving $100,000 and managing to get an education that is just as good, and perhaps even better, than you can get at many top universities?

Clearly, the student who lives at home and pays community college fees is spending many thousands of dollars less than the student who’s paying tuition, room and board at a four-year college.

Educational quality is the same.

From Community College Spotlight.

I wonder a couple of things, though.

Is the education at a community college the same as a student would receive at a four-year school? I think that depends, always, on the professors. I would have to say, though, that I doubt seriously that an education at Harvard or UPenn or California: Berkeley is the same level of education that a student at Local CC gets.

To some extent, the general education courses will be very similar. When non-majors are taking an introductory class there’s not a lot of difference, usually, in what those courses look like from school to school.

In the majors courses there may be some difference, but at a four-year college the students are getting two extra years of classes. Those should be difference.

What do you think about the relative quality of CCs? Obviously it’s a slam dunk on the cost.

GPA-Forgiveness Programs

Colleges in and around Philadelphia are offering GPA-forgiveness programs to help raise graduation rates, according to Philly’s Inquirer.

Students who dropped out at least two years ago may resume classes without the worry that their poor past performance will blemish their degrees. Students who had “difficulty adapting to college” due to excessive partying or some other problem when they were 18 may have matured and may be ready to succeed, Newell said.

But like many colleges, Rowan won’t offer a third chance.

Christine Hagedorn, assistant dean of student services at Bucks County Community College, said students leave for many reasons – financial problems, pregnancy, or they “just weren’t sure what college was supposed to be doing for them.”

“Life can get in the way,” she said, “and students can get derailed.”

About 70 students return each year and take advantage of Bucks County College’s “academic-restart” policy. A few years ago, Hagedorn said, the college also sent a letter inviting back dropouts.

That seems like it might be a good idea for the community colleges around here as well. However, I can also see some people using it as an excuse to drop out. “Oh well, I can start again in two years…”

But I still like the idea. Maybe the QEP (or whatever we are doing) should be Finish What You Start and we could focus on bringing back folks who didn’t finish as well as helping those who are here now graduate. I like the idea, but it seems very ambitious and, unfortunately, some people are not capable of doing college level work.

E-book= Future? My Present

Inside Higher Ed has an article on e-books. It’s relevant to me for two reasons.
1. I am on the committee to find e-books usable for the English department at my CC.
2. I have been offered as a resource person to the class which was given iPads.

ipad-from-wired-dot-com

However, the e-book market has seen some auspicious developments in recent months. In July, Blackboard announced changes to its popular learning-management platform that would allow professors to assign electronic texts more easily — a potential coup for e-books, since Blackboard boasts by far the most popular learning-management platform in the industry and is well-positioned to influence how professors provide course materials to students.

But the most buzzed-about development with implications for e-books has been the unveiling of the iPad, which, among many other functions, is popular as a reading device. The last version of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader was ill-suited for academic reading, according to a handful of institutions that tried it out. But the iPad is touted as a more hip, versatile breed of e-reader — one that college kids are apt to buy for general purposes. And once they own e-readers, they will be more likely to buy e-books, suggested Eric Weil, managing director of Student Monitor, in a July interview with Inside Higher Ed.

Picture from Wired.com

CFP: Scribe

Scribe: A Journal of Writing Perspectives and Pedagogy in Two-Year Colleges is up and running! But we need your help.

We are looking for essays to be published in our first issue, coming out in December. If you are interested, please send your submissions to [email protected].com.

Submission Guidelines

•Submissions should be 500 to 4,000 words in length.

•All pages should be double-spaced and in current MLA format.

•The review process is blind. Please submit a cover page with your submission that includes the title, date of submission, your name, school or organization, and contact information.

•Include a biography that is 100 words or fewer.

•Manuscripts submitted to the Journal must be original and unpublished work of the author(s) and must not be under consideration by other publications.

•It is the author’s responsibility to obtain any necessary written permission for use of copyrighted material contained within the article.

•Send submissions and questions to [email protected] In the subject line, please put SUBMISSION. The deadline is Oct. 15, 2010.

Topics we are looking for include, but are not limited to, the following:
•Pedagogy
•Technology in the Classroom
•Students, including the needs of the new generation
•Revamping Programs and Courses, including creating an AFA program
•Tenure and Unions
•Challenges and Successes, including personal experiences
•Assignments and Activities
•Basic Writing vs. Academic Writing
•Applying Writing to Other Majors

Degrees Awarded that Were Discarded

Community College Spotlight talks about Project Win through which

Last year, a pilot program in partnership with Education Trust awarded nearly 600 associate degrees at nine institutions in three states. Almost 1,600 students were identified as potential degree recipients.

And there is more!

graduate-owl

Many former students are surprised to learn that they’d met the degree requirements or come close. They weren’t keeping track — and neither were the colleges they attended.

New Mexico looks for near-graduates of four-year universities to help them complete their final credits and earn a degree, reports College Puzzle.

Good news and a reasonable idea.

Open Access May Not Mean Anyone Can Come

The Teacher’s Edge has a discussion, by Maureen Dolan, on what community colleges are doing to cut costs. This impacts access, obviously.

Chicago’s community college system is considering putting an end to offering remedial courses, a move that would limit community college accessibility for prospective students whose reading, writing or math skills show they aren’t prepared for college-level work.

Education Week magazine reported last week that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley cited the high cost of remedial programs as a reason to cut them. Daley suggested the money spent on remedial courses might be better spent at alternative high schools to get students’ skills up to college-level.

Of course, you cut classes, you are also cutting the work of the college. The same article talks of North Idaho College’s remedial courses and says these classes “represent 9 percent of the total credits received by students at the college.”

Yes, remedial courses cost money. Yes, it is important to save money. But if the students, particularly returning students, can’t take the class at a college, will they take it anywhere?

4-year Degrees at a 2-year College?

Community College Spotlight discusses Florida’s CCs giving BAs out.

The article on Inside Higher Ed begins:

When the first community colleges sought permission to offer four-year degrees, they generally said that it would only be one or two programs — nothing dramatic. But in Florida, where the community college baccalaureate movement is strongest, community colleges now offer more than 100 four-year degrees, and the figure could be about to jump significantly.

Though a handful of Florida community colleges had won approval to offer select four-year degrees around 2001, the rest of the state took hold of the idea in 2008…

One sentence in the commentary at CC Spotlight was eye-catching in a not-great way.

Community colleges’ four-year degree programs are attracting older students and minority students, making them less of a threat to four-year institutions.

“[T]hem” here is clearly intended to mean the degree programs. However, since the referent comes after older and minority students, it seems to be those that the four-year school won’t have to deal with.

And, honestly, do you want only 18 year olds who are white or Asian (who are minorities but do not count as minorities for schools because they go to college in such high numbers–which is probably another argument for culture rather than race) to be in a freshman class?

By putting forth the idea that minorities and older students go to CCs we are saying non-minorities and younger students go to 4-yr colleges. Is this what we want? An academic divide?

Teachers at CCs already get less respect in academia than teachers at 4-yr schools. Students taking classes at CCs are already seen as less prepared.

Do we really want to add that stigma to most of our minorities and older students?

It’s something that is worth thinking about. And doing something about.

Working-Class Students and CCs

Working-Class Perspectives has an interesting post on community colleges.

Julie Garza-Withers is wondering whether the community college is the right place for working-class students.

The research around student success suggests that community colleges do not challenge students and have low expectations. In the status hierarchy of higher ed, this means community college classes are perceived as “easier,” or less academically rigorous. Moreover, research shows that students who transfer from community colleges have frighteningly low graduation rates from four-year schools — an average of just 36% complete a four-year degree within 6 years. The analysis implies that the low graduation rate might be because community colleges do not foster cultures of achievement and that students do not feel motivated to succeed.

Having said that, however, she goes on to make some interesting and credible arguments for CCs being the right place for working-class students.

Her points include different levels of rigor, which allows for “catching up,” teaching over scholarship, which explains the lack of respect CC teachers have in the eyes of academe, and the cost of CCs.

It’s an interesting and thoughtful article and well worth reading.